Lackova honoured for pioneering Holocaust writings
Eighty-year-old Roma writer Elena Lackova was given the Chatam Sofer medal from Pavol Mestan, director of the Museum of Jewish Culture in Bratislava, for her documentation of the consequences of Holocaust on the Romani community. Born in Velky Saris, in Slovakia, Lackova's writing recounts the suffering of 400 Roma, who were driven out by Hlinka guards in 1942, and of the men aged 18 to 60 who were put into a forced labour camp.
Lackova has written several plays about the Holocaust that have been shown in Romani theatres since the 1950s. She has also published several novels dealing specifically with Roma and the Holocaust. Dead are not Coming Back and White Ravens were published in magazines and the Romani newspaper Romano Nevo Lil between 1994 and 1996. Life in the Wind remains unpublished. The novel Dead are not Coming Back should be available in bookshops later this year.
Wanted—Commissioner for Romani affairs
Vincent Danihel was removed from his cabinet position as Slovak Commissioner for Romani Affairs. The Slovak government has raised objections against the functioning of the Office for Roma Affairs and Danihel has been repeatedly criticised for mismanagement, bad communication with inter-governmental organisations and for a lack of respect from the Slovak Roma community.
According to information in several Slovak dailies, Vice-Prime Minister Pal Csáky will announce a call for applications next week to find a replacement. According to Danihel, Csáky is not telling the truth about his real motives behind his initiative to replace him. Although Danihel will remain active in Roma politics, he has refused to communicate with Csáky, because, according to Danihel, his decision to remove him puts Roma back on the level of third-class citizens.
Give work to Roma!
On 5 May, three hundred Roma protested in Rimavska Sobota to express their disagreement with the economic exclusion of Roma in the Slovak Republic. Roma sought to raise concern about the desperate economic situation and their minimal chances to find employment in Slovakia.
The protesters also signed a letter addressed to the Council of Europe, in which they expressed their disagreement with the policy of the Slovak Government towards Roma. According to the letter, it is alleged that Vice-Prime Minister Csáky, responsible for Roma and human rights, has no interest in solving the situation.
According to the spokesperson of the Civic Association League of Activists for Human Rights, there are 80,000 people living in the district, out of which one-quarter are Roma. Most alarming is that within this community, unemployment levels reach 100 per cent.
The association has requested that the government create conditions where Roma can find employment (through public work programmes). The leader of the Roma Parliament, Ladislav Fizik, emphasised that the often-repeated media stereotype that the Roma are not interested in regular employment is not true. He added that similar demonstrations would be organised across Slovakia.
Eva Sobotka, 11 May 2001
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