Report by David Kandrac
Who is Peter Pollak?
He is the first Roma representative in the Slovakian parliament. He works with Roma communities across the Slovakia to fight for their rights and to seek solutions for their needs. Dr. Peter Pollak is in his mid-40s and live in Levoce, Slovakia. He is a Slovakian-Roma. He has an MA in Social Politics and Social Work from UKF Nitra, Slovakia. He also has a PhD from the Catholic University in politics.
Peter visited Sheffield on the 8th March to meet with local Roma community members.
This visit was made in the context of a major political crisis in Slovakia. The death of a journalist , Jan Kuciak, who had been investigating high-level government corruption has thrown the country into disarray. Robert Fico has been the Prime Minister of Slovakia for the past couple of years. According to Pollak and other politicians, Fico is in cooperation with the Slovakian mafia and he does not like Roma people. Not only that but he is accused of receiving considerable funds to invest into the Roma communities but never doing so. Not only Pollak and Roma communities dislike his approach as PM but there are other protest groups and campaigns against his work and reputation in the parliament.
Pollak came to Sheffield on the 8th of March 2018 to the Firvale Community Hub to meet Roma people living in Sheffield and to demonstrate to Fico that the same Roma people who he dislikes for many reasons are doing well in Sheffield. Many of them are employed or self-employed and some are at University. He stated that people are running away from Slovakia not because they don’t like it but because they do not have a job and a future there. Not only Roma but many other people from minorities leave their families and belongings and end up working hard abroad. While we are working so hard, Fico, Kalinak and other people involved in Slovakian politics are stealing from us and instead of employing Roma residents they employ foreigners.
In the clip below we hear from several local Roma who share their views with Peter Pollak.
“In Slovakia, we don’t have the rights to obtain a council house until we are in employment”
“We are living here, we are integrated and wanting to work”
“If we return to Slovakia after a year, our children end up in special schools”
“People are saying that Gypsies don’t want to work, and they are not educated. This is because they have excluded our children from the schools and put them into special schools. We did not have the opportunities in Slovakia and now my son is at the University and wanting to study a PhD”.
“Why you think they have killed the journalist, he probably found out something”.
Peter Pollak wrote the following in the introduction to his facebook live video of the meeting in Sheffield:
People run from Slovakia not because they want to, but they don’t have a job and a future. Not just us, Roma, but also a lot of people from majority must leave family, property and toil abroad. While we are creating values for a foreign state, FICO, kaliňák and co. They’re stealing from us. They import the serbs, there’s no work for us.
We are in Britain to show the government, but also to all that still doubt that Roma can work, that if we give our children education and work, they will be successful and Slovakia will return.
I invite everyone to share this video and show the truth to the entire nation.
Thanks for the invitation, Dezider Horvath.
The full video is here.