1st Oct 2023

EU's Roma feel betrayed by silence on Czech killing

  • The death of Stanislav Tomáš has sparked widespread criticism against discrimination faced by the Roma in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, triggering protests all over Europe (Photo: Jaap Arriens)

Roma community members have called on EU leaders to speak out against the brutal death of Romani man Stanislav Tomáš in the Czech Republic last month, given its parallels with to the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Video footage of his arrest, which went viral on social media, shows a police officer kneeling on Stanislav's chest and neck for around five minutes.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Roma man later died in an ambulance called to the scene.

His death has sparked widespread criticism against discrimination faced by Roma in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, triggering protests all over Europe, which will continue this week.

Members of the Roma community wrote to EU leaders, including European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, demanding "a clear stance against antigypsyism and violence" and asking them to "publicly condemn all acts of police brutality against Roma citizens".

They regretted that while the murder of George Floyd sparked a wave of outcry from EU officials, "in the case of its own citizens dying in similar circumstances, the EU has remained silent".

"Though the violent police intervention was reported widely, there has been a deafening silence from EU leaders who have not said a word against the brutal act," warned Zeljko Jovanovic, director of Roma Initiatives Office, one of the organisations involved in the peaceful protests.

"A free society is one without police brutality in which all citizens can feel safe and protected. Regretfully, we Roma do not feel safe in our own communities as long as we are endangered by law enforcement due to the colour of our skin, and the deeply-rooted prejudices, stereotypes and racism we face every day," he added.

The NGOs are also calling on the EU institutions to exercise "firm action against police brutality… to make sure no other citizens die at the hands of the police".

Advocacy group Amnesty International argued that the neck-restraint technique used by Czech police was "reckless, unnecessary, and disproportionate, and, therefore,, unlawful".

Czech officials, including prime minister Andrej Babiš, have defended the police's handling of a case.

In a statement, the police said that the preliminary autopsy reports "ruled out a connection with the operation that preceded the arrest of the suspect," claiming that a drug overdose was the main cause of death.

As human rights activists started using the hashtag "#RomaLivesMatter" on social media, police forces tweeted that "there is no 'Czech Floyd'".

Meanwhile, the Strasburg-based Council of Europe has called for an "urgent, thorough, and independent investigation" into Stanislav's death.

Romani are Europe's largest ethnic minority - with around 6 million living in the EU.


After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?

Beatings, forced sterilisation, police violence and fire bombings by right-wing extremists against Romani communities are still a reality in Europe. The corona pandemic only worsened this situation.


Why EU's new Roma strategy is welcome, but toothless

How do we actually want to improve the precarious situation of millions of people with Romani background in Europe, when political leaders in the countries with some of the highest Romani populations openly nourish anti-gypsyist stereotypes, like in Hungary?


Will Poles vote for the end of democracy?

International media must make clear that these are not fair, democratic elections. The flawed race should be the story at least as much as the race itself.


Orbán's 'revenge law' is an Orwellian crackdown on education

On Tuesday, the Hungarian parliament passed a troubling piece of legislation known by its critics as the 'revenge law', which aims to punish and intimidate teachers who dare to defy Viktor Orbán's regime. This law is a brutally oppressive tool.

Latest News

  1. EU women promised new dawn under anti-violence pact
  2. Three steps EU can take to halt Azerbaijan's mafia-style bullying
  3. Punish Belarus too for aiding Putin's Ukraine war
  4. Added-value for Russia diamond ban, as G7 and EU prepare sanctions
  5. EU states to agree on asylum crisis bill, say EU officials
  6. Poland's culture of fear after three years of abortion 'ban'
  7. Time for a reset: EU regional funding needs overhauling
  8. Germany tightens police checks on Czech and Polish border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  2. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations
  2. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  3. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  4. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us