Seeking a political voice : the Roma of post communist Europe
A major concern for the Roma in the Czech Republic is their ability to attain a healthy standard of living. Though their society is often misrepresented and misunderstood by the mainstream society, attempts by the Roma to gain legitimacy or recognition in post-communist countries has been met with little success. No where is this more evident than in the Czech Republic.The purpose of this paper is to discuss why there is a lack of political activism expressed by Roma in Eastern Europe throughout history. The Czech Republic offers the best case study of how the Roma have lived and been oppressed by every empire and authoritarian regime to claim Czech territory. The first section of this paper studies the societal and historical problems that have faced the Roma from their arrival into Europe to before the spread of communism into Czechoslovakia. The second section looks at the Communist's attempts to erase Romani identity from the people by assimilating them into the mainstream culture as a way to ensure they would not speak out against the state. The final three sections look at how the Roma have faired since the end of communism. Special attention has been given to the role of the international community in fighting for political, social, and economic equality of the Roma. The paper concludes with a look at where political activism is today with the growth of many Romani political parties and organizations.