On Saturday, 23 June, I attended and supported a gathering n the town square in Sokolov calling for the solving of the death of Ludovít Kašpar. Ludovít passed away at the start of May of this year under suspicious circumstances and may have been beaten to death by police officers. The gathering was convened by the family of the deceased and the Hate is No Solution Initiative (Iniciativa Nenávist není řešení), which assists Romani people in tense situations, especially in cases of neo-Nazi attacks.
The gathering took place in a very dignified, reverential spirit. The family members wept, in the presence of police officers, and demanded an investigation into Ludovít’s death. Speeches were made by both non-Romani and Romani people, his family members, activists, and clergy. Various matters were raised, such as the need for Romani people to join forces and stand up for their rights, the hateful anti-Romani marches in the Šluknov foothills, the rumors around the Břeclav case, the segregation of Romani children into “special” schools, the pressure placed on Mr Kašpar’s family and the future of his children, and other Romani people who have recently passed away under either unclear or violent circumstances. All of the speakers called for an investigation into the death of Ludovít Kašpar.
Promoters of the Workers’ Social Justice Party attempted to disrupt the gathering by attending with anti-Romani signs. Mr Vojtěch Pompa followed the course of events from a distance. He is the person who initially participated in organizing the commemorative gathering and then, for some reason, changed his mind 180 degrees and did his best to prevent the gathering calling for the clarification of the death of Ludovít Kašpar.
Next week Mr Pompa is organizing his own gathering under the rubric of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion in Romani Localities, the municipality, and the police. There will be no speeches at that gathering about the unresolved death of a poor, wretched Romani man, but there will be happy dancing, songs, and speeches supporting the police. Readers can decide for themselves what to make of this. Romani people are not chumps.
I would like to remind Mr Pompa of the fate of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a Jewish man who worked for the Nazis as administrator of the Jewish ghetto in Lodž. Rumkowski was promised luxury and safety for his own family in exchange for mercilessly upholding discipline and order among the Jews in the ghetto, badgering his people into performing unimaginable labor in the ghetto factories and mercilessly suppressing every attempt among the ghetto residents to rise up against the Nazis.
Speaking as a Jew, Rumkowski even told neutral newspapers abroad that everything was in order and that nothing wrong was going in with Jewish people in Nazi Germany. In the end, he ended up just like all the Jewish people in the Lodž ghetto: He and his entire family were on the final transport to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
I feel badly about how the media in the Czech Republic reported on Saturday’s gathering. They either ignored it entirely, or gave space to Mr Pompa to present his evaluation and opinion of it. Ludovít’s family received no space in the media at all.t
Čeněk Růžička, chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic and Vice-Chair of the Equal Opportunities Party (Strana rovných příležitostí).