(Note to self: by all means gaze up at the beautiful house façades bathed in sunlight and do gasp in awe as you spot another wonderful gothic or baroque creation…just don’t forget to keep one eye on the pavement. Dog’s rule this city and poor innocent newcomers who haven’t quite mastered the art of excrement-dogging will pay the price.)
“Blue Bolsheviks!” were the words that greeted me as I entered the office this morning. Somewhat startled, I realised as Mr Ivan Vesely began to elaborate that no, this wasn’t a Czech ‘good morning’ equivalent stemming from communist times: he was referring to the pile of paperwork on his desk which now obscured my view of a somewhat exasperated Mr Vesely. “You know Christina; I had fewer forms to fill out under the bureaucratic machine of the army. Now considering I spent 2-3 days per week writing reports as a commander of over 100 soldiers, that is saying something”. Dzeno relies heavily on project funding, yet the necessary paperwork is incredibly time consuming. Ivan Vesely shrugs his shoulders, mutters “the blue Bolsheviks have the money” and gets on with it. Any remaining romantic images I had of advocating for such a just cause vanish as I am reminded of the continuous trials and tribulations faced by small minority rights organisations like Dzeno. A particularly large dose of pragmatism is the order of the day.
The realities of Roma rights activism hit home. The mound of paperwork is nothing compared to the enormity of the problems with which the Roma community is confronted. Given the current preoccupation with employment and migration, Roma all over Europe are in real danger of becoming almost institutionalised scapegoats for economic woes. The disturbing upsurge in far-right extremism in Central and Eastern Europe which Colby Pacheco – Dzeno’s 2008 Peace Fellow – described in his blog has persisted. November of last year saw 500 members and supporters of the far-right Workers Party clash with police as they attempted to march through a Roma suburb in the Czech town of Litvinov. In April this year, a 2-year-old was left fighting for her life following an arson attack on a Romani house in Vitkov, also in the Czech Republic. These incidences alongside recent racial attacks on Roma in Northern Ireland, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia warrant immediate action on local, national and international levels.
“Slow down Christina, slow down”. Mr Vesely’s wise words are hard to swallow.
Posted By Christina Hooson
Posted Jul 9th, 2009