Sunday, November 30, 2008

Civic Judo: Gypsy integration in reality

This program of TV NOVA, "Civic Judo" about the gypsy questions, was aired in May 2008. English transcript, my fast translation:

0:00 Narrator: Our reporter, Ms Bohunka Frankova, recorded a program for you that we titled in a simple way: Roma minority.

0:05 Narrator: It's being discussed a lot. Many people are criticized for their racist statements. But no one really knows what to imagine under the term "the Roma question". Emotions are sometimes appropriate and sometimes they are not. Across our country, however, there are towns and villages where people are not philosophizing about the question whether the integration of the Roma people with other citizens will help. Instead, they are already living in the integration. However, the life is much harder than what is being negotiated, learned, or taught. After all, you can have a look.

0:33 Reporter: May I ask you how do you like living here? In this neighborhood?

0:37 Old woman: Words can't describe it.

Reporter: Why?

Old woman: When you look at my yard, what a pile of trash do I have there.

Reporter: And who is doing that?

Old woman: Well, the gypsies. They can do everything and we [can do] nothing.

0:52 In the city of Ostrava, Marianske Hory (neighborhood), there is a place called Bedřiška, composed out of 20 Finnish (?) double houses. The houses are owned by the city and are mostly occupied by the Roma people. Other renters are complaining about their behavior and that it's impossible to live there, in between of them.

1:08 Old man: They were throwing bricks at me and I had to escape because I could have been hit, for example, in my head. They burned my bee hive. They have destroyed my, uhm, garage. Anything you can think about.

1:23 Ms Liana Janáčková, a senator, a mayor, and an architect: They're attacking not only verbally but also physically. The old settlers who are living here - enjoying the last years of their life - must often feel very pathetic. I can understand that.

1:39 Man with hat (a local citizen): Whatever is made out of metal and is not securely attached to something else will be taken away.

1:43 Another man: They know where things can be found. So they send children over there. And what do the children do? They take it because they know nothing will happen to them.

1:51 Ms Liana: Police and firemen are coming here pretty much every day.

1:56 A woman: Concerning the adults, it's sometimes OK but it just terrible with the kids. Horrible.

2:03 Reporter: So you're throwing nothing anywhere, are you?

Kids: Yes, we're throwing trash around.

Reporter: I see, so you do. Don't you have dustbins around? [No.] Oh, there aren't any, I see. And who will collect the trash here? [We.] I see, so you pick it again. [Yes.] Well, I think you will find a dustbin, after all. [What are you doing?] And who is doing the mess?

2:27 Adult gypsy: We, the Romacks. And one of us won't tell to the eyes of another one who did it. Someone will simply bring some mess or trash, throw it somewhere, and it's everywhere.

2:34 Mr Petr Krones, a gypsy association: It is no longer true that a gypsy won't steal from another gypsy. It's a part of the history.

Reporter: So they're fighting with one another, right? We've heard one group of gypsies blaming the other one for this and that.

Krones: Of course, this is how it is.

2:45 Reporter: Here you can see a stolen roof over here, right?

2:49 Woman: Yes, of course, it's been completely peeled off. You can only see the black material, right?

2:55 Reporter: Is it normal here? The roof was there and suddenly it's gone, right?

Woman: No one has seen anything.

3:00 Adult gypsy: They're burning houses, everything here. Mess. It's normal.

3:06 Ms Liana: it's hard to know what's going on. One group of gypsies comes and says, we're the nice ones. It's the other group that is making the mess. And then I get the other group and says that we're the nice ones, please don't mix us with the bad ones.

3:22 Reporter: We've had a similar experience. Some people from Bedřiška told us that a favorite game of the Roma children is to prevent the cars from moving.

Adult gypsy: The car can't go. The driver must get out and tell the children to go away, otherwise the car will go anyway.

3:35 Reporter: when the same thing happened to us one day later and we couldn't go away, the gypsies told us that it was out fault because we encouraged the kids to do that or, maybe, we even instructed the kids to behave in this way.

3:43 Reporter: We wanted to go.

Gypsy woman: No, you are not moving.

Reporter: We were at rest because we couldn't go.

Gypsy woman: You were just sitting there, and the small guy was just climbing your car!

3:53 Reporter: And is it normal?

Gypsy woman: No, it's not. But you shouldn't let him to do these things!

Reporter: I see, we shouldn't let him climb. But what could have we done against it?

Reporter: We didn't get an answer to this one. We therefore couldn't get rid of the feeling that everything that happens in Bedřiška is always the other people's fault.

4:10 Old man: They only have rights but no duties. And they know their rights perfectly. But they have no responsibilities.

4:17 Man with hat: The government behaves towards them like in communism: they have everything for free which is why they have no respect to these things.

4:20 Reporter: Nevertheless, Ostrava started a program for the Roma people who have completed the basic school and are listed as unemployed in the Office to fight unemployment. Without any qualification, they can do some cleaning jobs and clean the sidewalks. These Roma people are paid from the European social fund. Their work is verified and photographed every day.

4:39 Ms Liana: Are you working here?

Gypsy: No but I want to work. Do you remember how I was working with [someone, unintelligible], when I proposed them to [unintelligible]?

Ms Liana: But can you work, can't you?

Gypsy: But where, Ms Janáčková? I will be grateful to you if you find...

Ms Liana: You can clean the sidewalks. [OK.] Fine.

4:51 Reporter: The task to incorporate the Roma people into the working process is the job of many agencies and organizations. Their results can be seen but their number is still negligible relatively to the total Roma population. On the other hand, one must start somewhere. And these agencies simply help only to those who are interested in such help. And so far, they're in the minority. Those who are not interested in any help won't be convinced to work by anyone. Many Roma people got used to live out of the social welfare. Up to very recently, they were even getting coal for free. Now, when they don't, they're burning any trash including coated windows.

5:26 Ms Liana: There is a boom to replace older windows by the new plastic windows around here. So we are finding the older windows right here. They're using the wood to burn it. The glass is being buried in their gardens or they just leave it freely on the roads.

5:40 Gypsy: Tell me what should I do when we no longer get even the coal for free? Tell me how can I buy the stuff to burn?

Reporter: But others are also buying the coal.

Gypsy: But who?

Reporter: How do you want to get it?

Gypsy: I don't need to get it. But tell me, who is buying it? Whatever wood I find, must be used.

5:55 Reporter: The officials from the Ostrava city hall have been asked to check the neighborhood whether they're burying the trash on their gardens and burning the windows.

Ms Liana to a male city official: We just take diggers or we do it ourselves, and all the glass and trash is simply there.

Reporter: We will see what their findings will be. We will be watching this community in the future, too. So we will also be interested in the results of your work.

6:20 Reporter: The Roma question is very complicated and virtually nothing can be solved on the spot. That's why we gave some time to the officials. Meanwhile, we learned about a project that could help to Bedřiška. The houses are in a bad condition and the project plans the construction of new houses for the co-existence of the white citizens and the Roma people who would personally participate in the construction.

Reporter: So how many houses would be built here? Would they be attached houses?

Official (or Ms Liana): They're the simple houses, 8 meters times 8 meters, with very basic equipment only, constructed out of material that can't be broken, stolen, or burned.

Reporter: There are two versions of the project, either with ground floor houses or double storied houses. The project includes a house for the police and an agency that would help the Roma people with education or job search.

7:10 Man with hat: I can imagine it would work. Almost certainly, better than this setup.

7:15 Reporter: It's been six week since we recorded the previous video in Ostrava. We wanted to wait and see whether the local officials who looked so uncertain to us did any actual work. Today, based on their written report, we can inform you that they have really discovered prohibited dumping grounds, illegal manipulation with car wreckages and other types of trash. The officials have already asked the Czech Environmental Inspection to re-investigate these offenses.

7:40 Reporter: Meanwhile, we also talked to the Czech minister for minorities and human rights. Could she help to the village? Before our interview, Ms minister left for Ostrava to learn about the place. She was just talking to a local woman whose head was just broken by the Roma kids. And she heard some parents encouraging their children to steal. Simply, a hard reality.

8:02 Ms Džamila Stehlíková, MD, the minister. There are a few families with a bad influence on children that help to create some kind of children's gangs. We should start to think whether the education of the youth is not threatened here. There are essentially three families that are creating an unbearable environment for the whole small village.

Reporter: They're creating unbearable environment and they're the people who don't pay the rent, too. You can move them out of the houses, right?

Ms Liana: The problem is where. I could buy tents and build them close to the Odra river, maybe.

Reporter: They're not paying the rent, after all. What is being done with such people? Some hostel or the street?

Ms Liana: I don't know. Yes, maybe the street.

8:46 Reporter: When the problematic families are moved out of the village, Ms Liana's project for a new Bedřiška could be successful. However, they don't have enough money for this "small village of co-existence".

9:00 Reporter: Don't tell me that our republic wants to solve the Roma problems and the budget doesn't give any money for that.

Ms minister: We simply can't grab the taxpayers money with the risk that after some time, the living standards will drop below the level where we started again.

9:18 Reporter: But some solution should be found. We simply can't leave the other citizens of Bedřiška who are not afraid to live in between the Roma people without any help. The European Commission considers the integration of the Roma people to be one of its priorities which is why Ms minister believes that this is where the money could be found.

Ms minister: I like the project a lot and I hope that Bedřiška will transform to something better at some moment.

Ms Liana: I am an optimist in essence who believes that it will work. But I can't tell you whether it will be in the year 2010 or 2020.

Reporter: Well, let's hope not. The village will have been collapsed by that time.

9:58 Ms Liana: OK, 2010.

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