Articles

Czech Roma asylum seekers to swamp Canadian refugee shelters

In Economy, Education & Science, European Union, Politics on June 6, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

(c) Getty Images

(c) Getty Images

Hundreds of Czech Roma have left their country to seek asylum in Canada since January 2009. Canadian authorities fear that the situation might get out of control, the National Post in Toronto wrote. The influx is motivated by the Roma’s conviction that they are constantly being discriminated against and that the Czech authorities fail to protect them from the attacks by extreme-right movements. According to AFP among the asylum claimants is the Editor-In-Chief of Czech Radio’s broadcasting for minorities.

No doubt that this minority has experienced oppression and discrimination and even mass extinction attempt during WWII. No doubt that present-day Czech Roma experience problems on the labour market. And no doubt that it is fair to do whatever you can to make your life better — but the idea of asylum in Canada is absurd

In 2009 Europe you don’t have to seek asylum while seeking better life. We are EU members and anyone who is dissatisfied with their job, housing, health care standard etc. may easily try to seek employment in practically ANY EU member state, with some exceptions. Anyone who has been denied to show their potential may do so anywhere. In other words, the Czech Roma who have left their country had their chance to ACTIVELY seek “better life” — but instead they flew across the Atlantic and asked another country to take care of them. No government can promise 100-percent safety; and there have been racist attacks in Canada so the main reasons for going to Canada have nothing to do with the race…

Loud and clear, they have the right to do it de iure. But in terms of asylum policies the Czech Republic is a safe country and several Czech authorities have established that most Roma refugee claimants are “economic refugees”. And in Europe in the year 2009 if you have an EU passport you do not have to be an economic refugee.

Something tells me that Americans should generally dislike this attitude. It is a country that cheers to selfmademen and people whose stories start with “I came to this country with $10 and I started by washing dishes at a drive-in…” or “I went from zero to hero”. So by supporting the Czech Roma financially the Canadian government discriminates other nationalities who come to the country with C$10 and make their own way up by working for a lousy pay…maybe because they are too proud to ask for help…

The relationships between the “majority” and the Roma minority have never been perfect, especially in terms of “coexistence”. When asked “who would you want most to avoid having as a neighbor” most Czechs named “the Roma” due to huge differences in lifestyles. And there is a “favorite” joke in the Czech Republic that even appeared in a certain motion picture: Question: What is the worst thing you can hear from a Roma? Answer: Good morning, neighbor.

On a related note, the Prague Post writes:

The Romany Resistance Movement issued a statement to the Czech News Agency (ČTK) May 28, saying the only way Roma people can protect themselves from attacks is by leaving the country. It also criticized the police for failing to guarantee their safety.

Meanwhile, some 35 Roma from the town of Vysoké Mýto, east Bohemia, left the region last week to seek asylum in Canada, according to the nongovernmental association Nadeje (Hope). Milan Nádvorník, regional manager of Nadeje, said the exodus was likely due to the promise of better social and economic conditions. “It can also be said that actual and self-felt discrimination plays a role,” he said. “To an extent, there’s a degree of actual discrimination happening.”

That discrimination was reflected in a poll released by the CVVM institute May 29, which revealed that relations between the Roma and the rest of the population are now believed to be at their worst in more than a decade. Eighty-five percent of the 1,056 respondents gave a poor assessment of co-existence with Roma, according to CTK [news agency].

There have been numerous attempts to normalize the relationship but so far not much success here. I think we can explain it by the childish “he started it / no, he did” saying. Or we can compare it to two gunmen pointing at each other, both wanting to put their gun down, but NOT wanting to be the first one to do it: everybody must want to solve the problem and everybody must show the same amount of effort… but that is going to take time, money and compromises…

3 Responses to “Czech Roma asylum seekers to swamp Canadian refugee shelters”

  1. But don’t think there’s a credible argument for saying that the majority ought to be the one to make the first overtures toward reconciliation and integration? The majority, in this case Czechs, is dealing from a position of strength, whereas the minority (Roma, in this case) is in a position of vulnerability by virtue of being vulnerable.

    I’m not saying the minority has no responsibility for embracing those overtures and doing its part, but if it’s really a question of a standoff where neither side wants to make the first move, I tend to think the majority should acknowledge the unequal balance of power and should act accordingly to help establish an equilibrium.

  2. When given an equal chance at every level the Roma are successful business people, lawyers and professors. I see this in the United States and other western European countries. The Czech govt believes that they are not as intelligent due to the fact that they do not speak or are not able to learn Czech which is untrue. Education empowers people. The Czech education system does not offer or feels that bilingual education is not realistic option for the Roma and other refugee children and send them to “special schools”. When started early children can learn languages fairly quickly. At each step the Czech govt has not allowed the Roma to have even a fair chance and the situation will not change unless each side takes positive steps.

  3. [...] Czech Daily Word writes about Czech Roma asylum seekers in Canada. Cancel this [...]

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