End APARTHEID in Slovakia!

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
End APARTHEID in Slovakia!

Happening right now in Slovakia:

Downstairs at the village school there is one class for "whites", upstairs a separate class for "blacks". The two never mingle, the apartheid is entrenched. The parents or the buses collecting the infants from school are instructed to come at different times to solidify the racial separation.

The scene is not from the American deep south of 40 years ago or from South Africa 20 years ago, but from contemporary Europe, from an EU member state where racism, segregation and discrimination are outlawed but practised systematically nonetheless.

The "blacks" are the Roma children from Europe's biggest and most persecuted minority, the place is eastern Slovakia, home to one of the densest concentrations of Roma or Gypsy communities in Europe. The educational plight of the Roma children in Slovakia and across central Europe is little short of disastrous.

"If I open a Roma class, I will lose all the white children. They are not clean enough, nor do I have space for them," a headteacher told Amnesty International in a report on the persistence of schooling apartheid issued yesterday. "I don't think you would let your child go to a Roma class if you lived here as your child would have everything stolen."

In a landmark ruling this week, the European court of human rights in Strasbourg found the Czech Republic guilty of racism and discrimination against the Roma minority for dumping the children in "special schools" for those with learning difficulties, and segregating classes between Roma and Czechs.

It was the first time an EU member state had been found in breach of the European convention on human rights because of educational discrimination against the Roma. The ruling is being closely watched for its impact across central and south-eastern Europe, where the vast majority of Europe's estimated 8 million Roma live.

But studies from Amnesty International and the philanthropist George Soros's Open Society Institute (OSI) confirm that similar discrimination is rampant in Slovakia. "Segregation happens in two ways," said Amnesty. "Huge numbers of Roma continue to be segregated into Roma-only schools and classes. Many are also inappropriately placed in 'special schools' for children with physical and mental disabilities ... As many as 80% of children placed in special schools in Slovakia are Roma."

The OSI study found that Roma children in Slovakia are 28 times more likely to be put in special schools than non-Roma pupils, and in the Czech Republic 27 times more likely.

Slovakia is reckoned to have a Roma population of around half a million or 10%, most of them settled in ghettoes and shanties in the east where in some regions, according to a Slovak school inspector, all schools are segregated.

The Roma are broadly seen as the big losers from the collapse of communism across central Europe 18 years ago. Parents now have the right to choose which schools their children go to and they exploit that right to shift their children from co-education with Roma. The government in Bratislava is doing little to stop them, according to Amnesty.

"The residents of the village, the whites, wanted their children to move out of this school to the other school," said a headteacher. "They went through the municipality and regional offices up to the ministry. Everybody agreed and the white children were moved."

At a primary school near Trebisov in eastern Slovakia two years ago, Roma parents protested about segregation. The school refused to integrate the pupils and the parents appealed. Last year the education ministry ordered the school to yield. "The school inspectorate ordered the school to refrain from placing the children in classes according to their skin colour or ethnicity." The school continues to segregate the children, Amnesty found.

In addition, the Roma are penalised by a lack of preschool places, the lack of special teachers and language difficulties. The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner reported last year that 80% of pupils in "special schools" in parts of Slovakia were Roma, while only 3% of Roma children made it to secondary education.

"Children here are mentally retarded," the headteacher of a "special school", almost all of whose pupils are Roma, told Amnesty. "There is a tendency to integrate Roma children in primary schools, but pupils with mental and social retardation stay the same."


Let's do something about this!!

I am organizing a trip to Slovakia next month and I have two more spots open for people who want to help out!

Contact me at: bmagee@yorku.ca


End the proliferation of the use of "Apartheid".

Skinny Dipper

Which country is going to be next on the apartheid hit list?  Burkina Faso?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Caissa wrote:

End the proliferation of the use of "Apartheid".

Why?  Is there some reason we shouldn't use it in current situations where it applies?  Why should that term apply only to the now-overthrown South African system?

How is what's being done to the Roma in Slovakia less-oppressive than what was done in South Africa?


Apartheid = South African regime. Apartheid does not equal oppression.


Actually, no.  You're categorically wrong.  Apartheid is a general term, used by the United Nations to describe a certain set of GENERAL conditions.

Read this.

Article II

For the purpose of the present Convention, the term "the crime of apartheid", which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

(a) Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:

(i) By murder of members of a racial group or groups;

(ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(iii) By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

(b) Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

(c) Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

d) Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;


(e) Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

(f) Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.

So get over it already!


Thanks for setting that record straight, Michelle. South Africa's apartheid system was universally reviled. That's why those regimes which implement similar systems (like Israel - and this thread shows another example) are so sensitive about the use of the word. The way to avoid the "apartheid" charge is to change one's evil ways, not to engage in debates about semantics and etymology. I'm actually surprised that no one objected to my "Israeli fascists" thread title by arguing that fascism = Mussolini or Franco.



I shan't get over it. II a i would be more aptly called "genocide." II ii c,d are the only sections that come at all true to South African apartheid.

Unionist, it there is a neo-fascist party in Israel describing it as fascist seems reasonable.


Whatever.  Anyhow, let's get back on topic.

remind remind's picture

Thanks Michelle, that pretty much sums it up,  apartheid = apartheid, everywhere it is conducted.


As in our Canadian Apartheid, a model for the world to see: first we put them on reserves, then we took  away their children, assumed control of all their resources and then manipulated the media to support this point of view.  Oh and we still do it.

I am glad this issue is being addressed in Slovakia.



A ray of hope: Kumar Vishwanathan.