Gypsies and Indians
White, Calvin, Canadian Dimension
The northwestern Czech city of Usti nad Labem made international headlines less than two years ago when the local residents of one neighbourhood decided to build a concrete wall to separate themselves from newly arrived Romany (Gypsy) families. The Roma are considered "coloured" and prejudice and discrimination against them in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the two halves of the former Czechoslovakia, goes back many decades.
During World War II, when the Nazis were in control, the Roma felt their wrath. At Lety concentration camp, a hundred kilometres south of Prague, Czechoslovakian nationals administered a regime that tortured thousands of Roma under horrific conditions. Hundreds died there, and the others were transported to Auschwitz. Today, Lety is rife with controversy as the Czech government refuses to relocate the gigantic pig farm established there during the Communist era, despite criticism that it denigrates the Holocaust suffering of Czech Roma. It is estimated that over 90 per cent of Czech Roma died in the camps.
In July of this past year, in Rokyana, a town in the southwest of the Czech Republic, the office of a high-profile Romany organizer was hit with Molotov cocktails. A few days previously, a Romany home was burned out in the same town. The flashpoint was assumed to be the opening of a mixed pre-school. Then, in late August, news headlines carried the shocking …
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Publication information: Article title: Gypsies and Indians. Contributors: White, Calvin - Author. Magazine title: Canadian Dimension. Volume: 35. Issue: 4 Publication date: July 2001. Page number: 21. © 2009 Canadian Dimension Publication, Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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