Czech Romany movement denies organising exodus to Canada
published: 09.07.2009, 14:41
updated: 09.07.2009 14:48:17
Hnut romskho odporu k, e za emigrac Rom do Kanady nestoj
Prague – The Romany Resistance Movement, an informal alliance of several Romany associations that in May called on Romanies to leave the Czech Republic, does not stand behind their current mass immigration to Canada, movement spokesman Vaclav Miko told CTK today.
He added that neither he nor his aides are in touch with the “prospectors” who allegedly help Romanies contact the Canadian authorities.
“We are definitely not those who are organising it,” Miko said.
However, he admitted that the movement members would provide the necessary information on a respective country for those who would plan to emigrate.
Canada is considering reimposing visa requirements on Czech citizens, which were lifted in 2007, over a rising number of Czech Romanies who have claimed refugee status in the past few months, arguing with alleged discrimination in the Czech Republic.
According to the Canadian embassy in Prague, Czechs submitted 1720 refugee claims in Canada in the first half of the year only, which makes the Czech Republic the second top source country behind Mexico.
Information emerged that the immigration of Czech Romanies is organised by some people as a profitable business and that refugee status claimants abuse the Canadian system.
Sociologist Roman Kristof, former director of the Government Council for Romany Affairs, writes in his report for a Czech state office that the immigration of Czech Romanies to Canada is accompanied with a client system in which some former citizens of the Czech Republic and Slovakia have a “professional and financial interest.”
Kristof did not release the name of the institution that had ordered the report.
The report directly mentions Karolina Banomova, a former student of Romany studies at Charles University in Prague who was granted asylum in Canada in 1997, and Paul St. Clair, head of the Romany Community Centre in Toronto, as “prospectors” of the asylum immigration.
Banomova dismissed Kristof's statement on the website romea.cz.
Miko says he does not actively participate in the Romanies' exodus to Canada, but he does not deny his previous contacts with their possible organisers.
According to the Romany Resistance Movement, as many Romanies who feel discriminated against and threatened by extremists as possible should use the opportunity to leave the Czech Republic.
“There are two solutions – either aggression or escape,” said Miko, adding that Romanies have chosen the latter.
Moreover, he stressed that many more Romany families should leave the country.
Even if Canada reimposed visas on Czechs and thus complicated the Romanies' departure, there would be other countries for which the Romanies could head, Miko said but he did not elaborate.
The Romany Resistance Movement with some 200 members in total comprises the associations Roma Realia, Romany Alliance, Futurum Roma and Initiative of Youth from Louny.
Nevertheless, experts in Romany issues say they do not know this movement that is not formally registered. Some experts also point out that the movement may actually have fewer than some tens of members.