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Cablegate: Prague - International Roma Day

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPG #0239 1061352
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151352Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0246

UNCLAS PRAGUE 000239

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO APER PHUM PGOV PREL EZ
SUBJECT: PRAGUE - INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY

REF: A. SECSTATE 29991
B. PRAGUE 0126

1. Approximately 50 people including Embassy Political
Officer attended an art exhibition held in Prague on April 8
to commemorate International Roma Day (Ref. A). The outdoor
exhibit was sponsored by the Dzeno Group, a Czech-based Roma
organization with regional presence. The exhibit featured
stories of the approximately 30 people who have been killed
in anti-Roma violence in the Czech Republic since 1990. Each
of the 15 white sketch boards told the story of two victims,
and was adorned with a pair of black silhouettes. The Prague
exhibition culminated with a candle light vigil for victims
of racist violence later that evening. According to the
organizers, International Roma Day was also marked in most
major Czech cities.

2. As part of its efforts to increase ties between the USG
and the Roma community in the Czech Republic (Ref. B), on
February 18 Post organized a roundtable discussion between
members of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, led by Senator Ben
Cardin and U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings, and leading
figures from Czech Roma society. The meeting focused on the
effects of discrimination in the Roma community and practical
steps the Roma could take to increase their political power
and remedy their disparate treatment. As part of the
Commission's trip to Prague, the delegation also met with the
Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman), Otakar Motejl, who
officially investigated dozens of cases of forced
sterilization of Roma women before and after the 1989
revolution. The delegation also met with senior officials
from the Czech Office of Human Rights to discuss the members'
concerns about treatment of the Roma.

3. Post continues to engage the local Roma community on a
regular basis and will report significant developments septel.
ThompsonJones

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