Romani people in Czechoslovakia

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Romani people
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After the World War I, the Romani people in Czechoslovakia formed an ethnic community, living on the social periphery of the mainstream Czechoslovakian population.[1]

First Republic[edit]

The state always focused on the Romani population not as a distinct ethnic minority, but rather perceived it as a particularly anti-social and criminal group.[1] This attitude was reflected in the policy of collecting special police evidence—fingerprint collections of members of Romani groups (1925), a law about wandering Romani (1927).[1]

Socialist Republic[edit]

Racism was not an unknown phenomenon under communism.[2] Romani people were forced to resettle in small groups around the country, leaving them isolated.[2] This policy of the state was oriented toward one of assimilation of the Romani people (in 1958, Law No. 74, "On the permanent settlement of nomadic and semi-nomadic people"), forcibly limited the movement of that part of the Romani (perhaps 5%-10%) who still traveled on a regular basis.[1] In the same year, the highest organ of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia passed a resolution, the aim of which was to be "the final assimilation of the Gypsy population". The "Gypsy question" was decreased to a "problem of a socially-backward section of the population".[1] During this period, the governments actively supported sterilisation and abortion for Romani women and the policy was not repealed until 1991.[2]
The popular perception of Romani even before 1989 was of lazy, dirty criminals who abused social services and posed a significant threat to majority values.[2]

During the communist years unsuccessful attempts to change the nomadic living style of Romani were undertaken by the regime. Many Romani people were settled in panel houses that were, however, sooner or later utterly demolished (Chánov near Most, Luník IX in Košice). Attempts to stop the growth of the Romani population were made especially in Slovakia, where Romani women got financial offers for sterilization. After 1989, some Romani women started to accuse the state of "forced sterilizations" arguing that they were not properly informed of what "sterilization" meant. According to Czech ombudsman Otakar Motejl, "at least 50 Romani women were unlawfully sterilized". However, Czech representative at UN protested against such accusations, claiming that the accusation was "false" and Romani women "exaggerate in all cases". A hospital in Vitkovice (Ostrava) recently apologized to a Romani woman, who was sterilized after her second caesarean, but a request for a compensation of 1 million Czech crowns was rejected by the court.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Orgovanova, Klara; Engel. "Roma in Slovakia". Slovakia.org. 
  2. ^ a b c d George Lawson, Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain), Negotiated revolutions: the Czech Republic, South Africa and Chile, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2005, p. 115 ISBN 978-0-7546-4327-2