Saturday, May 02, 2009

The following appeal for a demonstration tomorrow, may 3, comes via the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
Please see below for information on a rally this Sunday being organized by the Roma communities in Toronto and Hamilton against escalating racist violence in the Czech Republic and surrounding Eastern European countries.
The rally in Toronto is part of international "Enough is Enough" demonstrations organized by Roma people in and outside of the Czech Republic.
We were asked to support the effort here by Roma community members in Toronto and a Roma man from Hamilton who is very active in our Raise the Rates campaign (Hamilton brought a busload to the special diet rally a few weeks ago). If people can really try and come out to this - in spite of the busy weekend - it is an important one.
DATE: Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
TIME: 2:30-4pm
LOCATION: Immigration and Refugee Board
74 Victoria Street (south of Richmond, one block east of Yonge)
Background Information:
*"Enough is Enough", demonstrations to take place 3 May 2009
**Prague, 27.4.2009, 15:03, (ROMEA)
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the flagrant and cowardly act to which a Romani family in Vítkov has fallen victim. As a result of an arson attack, three people were severely burned. A two-year-old child who suffered burns over 80 % of her body is fighting for her life.
The Roma in the Czech Republic are embittered by this arson attack and want to show their solidarity with the family. We are preparing a public collection for them and protest gatherings that will take the form of a"chain" demonstration.
*Chain Demonstration
*Symbolism: Protest gatherings will take place simultaneously at the same time of day nationwide. We call on everyone who condemns the terrorist attack on this Roma family to participate in these demonstrations on Sunday, 3 May 2009 at 16:00.
*Towns and locations of the demonstrations
* - Prague
- Karlínské námìstí
- Litvínov
- Námìstí míru
- Ústí nad Labem
- Mìstské sady
- Pardubice
- Per¹týnské námìstí
- Náchod
- Námìstí T. G. Masaryka
- Plzeò
- Námìstí T. G. Masaryka
- Ostrava
- Námìstí T. G. Masaryka
- Jablonec nad Nisou
- Horní námìstí
- Liberec
- Námìstí Dr. E. Bene¹e
- Lysá nad Labem
- Husovo námìstí
During these demonstrations people will be able to sign a petition condemning rising neo-Nazism in the Czech Republic. A charity collection will also be part of this event. Roma organizations will dedicate the proceeds to the afflicted family so they can secure new housing and mainly so they can afford future medical care.
We thank all the organizations and people who have been moved by this horrifying crime and are expressing their solidarity toward the afflicted family and Roma organizations.
*D¾eno Association:
Ivan Veselý
o. s.: Jarmila Balá¾ová
DAR Association:
Petr Tulija Slovo
21, o. s.: Jelena Silajd¾iæA
ssociation of the Roma of North Moravia
(Sdru¾ení Romù Severní Moravy):
Milan Ferenc Romodrom,
o. s.: Marie Gailová
Central Bohemian Regional Coordinator for Roma Affairs:
Cyril Koky*
April 27, 2008
Roma Community Centre - Toronto
The Roma Community Centre in Toronto wishes to bring to the attention of the current Canadian government and the Canadian people the surge in violence that is being perpetrated against the Roma minority in the eastern member states of the European Union.
On March 21 in Kosice, Slovakia a group of young Roma boys were forced to kiss each other, slap each other, and then strip naked upon the orders of police who recorded this incident on video on their mobile phones, reminiscent of the events of Abu Ghraib.
On April 22 in the town of Tiszalök, the fourteenth murder of a Roma citizen in Hungary was committed.
Two weeks ago a Romany woman and her 2 year old daughter were burned severely in Vitkov, Czech Republic, where the daughter suffered second and third degree burns over 80% of her entire body and remains in intensive care.
These are just the latest updates in a slew of pogroms that has plagued the region. It was also last week that our Canadian Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, claimed that the 993% increase in refugee claimants coming from the Czech Republic was due to unscrupulous commercial operations. We ask him to reconsider his statement prior to the Prime Minister's meeting with the Czech government on May 6, 2009.
Amnesty International has recently issued a statement calling on Prime Minister Topolanek of the Czech Republic to ensure that the authorities duly enquire into all cases of racially motivated attacks, and to impose punishments on the perpetrators that would correspond to the seriousness of their guilt. We agree with this statement and AI's call on Czech politicians to resolutely condemn all displays of hatred and intolerance, whoever their target. They must make it clear that such conduct is unacceptable and unlawful, something they have failed to do since 1989.
The Czech Minister for Human Rights and Minorities, Michael Kocab, called this most recent attack on Roma citizens an act of terrorism. It would be nice to think that there has been a change of heart in the leadership of the Czech nation. Strong words need to be backed by strong actions and unfortunately there has been no evidence of any effort to respect the rights of minorities since the fall of communism, twenty years ago.
The Czechs have been receiving the benefits of being a member of the EU without having to do the prerequisite work for it: creating a civil society. They have gained visa free access to Canada as a result of the bargaining power of the EU, yet they have not attempted to remove a pig farm from the site of a former concentration camp for Romanies during the Second World War. They are waiting for funds from the EU to pay for the cost of compliance with the Helsinki Accords.
This welfare mentality must stop. Czechs need to live up to EU standards. If the EU failed to hold them accountable in the screening its new members, they need to take a more active role in ensuring compliance from its new member states. Until then Canada should continue to grant asylum to Roma from the eastern EU member states. The Czech Republic is shirking its duty to all of its citizens, not just its Romany citizens who have been present in the Czech lands for over 300 years.
Numerous violent attacks go unreported. Doctors often refuse to file medical reports in cases where their testimony is critical in reporting racially motivated attacks, due to fear of reprisal from vigilantes against the medical community. The police are systemically reluctant to act on racially motivated crimes. Twenty years of these types of precedents have created an environment of tacit complicity with the extreme right wing terrorizers. Until the leadership vacuum in the Czech Republic is filled with people willing to address this, the Roma will continue to leave.
It is not Canada's job to solve the problems that Czechs, Hungarians, and others in that region have failed to address. Canadians nevertheless should not turn away those individuals who come here seeking safety. We urge Prime Minister Harper in his negotiations to hold the Czechs accountable for their actions while being mindful of the lives he can save by allowing the Roma to continue to come to Canada.

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