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    Posted December 11, 2013 by
    Prague, Czech Republic

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    Czech Gypsy Spirit awards 2013 go to Emil Cina, František Kostlán and Romodrom

    On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, after a three-year hiatus, the Gypsy Spirit awards were once again given out at the Prague Crossroads (Pražská křižovatka) cultural center. The prize for NGOs was won by the Romodrom civic association and the individual prize was awarded the late Emil Cina, who passed away in October.

    In the Gypsy Spirit media category the award went to František Kostlán of the ROMEA association. Victory in the category of Action of the Year went to Irena Drevňáková, who saved the lives of five people.

    The Romodrom association won its prize for providing professional aid to persons at risk of social exclusion in the Czech Republic, running three registered social services and accredited educational programs for children and primary school educators, and dedicating itself to social prevention programs for children and youth and supporting their entry into the labor market. The award for Emil Cina was accepted by his wife, Věra, who assisted him by transcribing his literary works and film translations.

    The audience at the ceremony rewarded Mr Cina with an enormous standing ovation. He belongs among the leading Romani activists, authors (particularly poets), and movers of the Romani ethno-emancipation movement after 1989.

    Mr Cina first worked at Czech Radio and then for several Romani periodicals. He loved the Romanes language and worked to preserve it, tirelessly traveling to schools throughout the Czech Republic to debate the Romanes language, Romani history and Romanipen with children, even when seriously ill.

    František Kostlán of the ROMEA association won the media award for his many years of publishing activity dedicated to human rights, immigrants and Romani people. Prior to November 1989 he worked as a manual laborer; since the Velvet Revolution he has mainly worked as a publicist and journalist.

    Mr Kostlán has worked as editor-in-chief of the daily Český deník, editor-in-chief of the magazine Parlament, as a commentator for the daily Lidové noviny and Czech Radio Regina, and as a dramaturg of discussion programs for television. He is a member of several civic associations involved with human rights, minorities, and the lives of children in orphanages.

    Mr Kostlán's reporting has long covered Romani people and their integration. Currently he works as an editor and reporter for the news server

    In the category of an "Action of the Year" that contributed to saving a life or improving someone's quality of life, the award went to Irena Drevňáková, a 24-year-old mother of three young daughters who called an ambulance and did not hesitate to plunge into a fish pond to pull young people from a wrecked car that had skidded and ended up two meters underwater so that only part of its roof was visible. She saved five people who got a new lease on life as a result of her heroism.

    The award for a company or firm that has long supported projects targeting social aid and support for the Romani community was won by the Štěpán Trochta Salesián Center in Teplice, which provides social services in its two clubs. Klub Luna is a drop-in club for children and youth running the "Podaná ruka" (Helping Hand) social activation services for families with children, while Klub Abalone is a drop-in club for children and youth running a program for those not involved in any other hobby groups who have discipline problems.

    A significant proportion of those who visit the Štěpán Trochta Salesián Center are Romani. The center is led by a team of qualified staff who prepare the youth to become better-included in the larger society.

    In the award category for a town or village implementing programs targeting integration of the Romani minority into society and activities benefiting the Romani community, the prize went to the town of Kadaň, which has introduced many support programs within a short amount of time to improve the situation of socially vulnerable residents of the town, primarily those from the excluded locality in Prunéřov. The Gypsy Spirit ceremony was held in Prague this year under the auspices of the Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman) JUDr. Pavel Varvařovský and former First Lady Dagmar Havlová.

    Messages of support for the annual award program were sent this year by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor, Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE Janez Lenarčič, and Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks. The evening was produced by the Michael Kocáb Foundation and the Open Society public benefit corporation (Otevřená společnost, o.p.s.) and was brilliantly moderated by Lejla Abbasová.

    "It gives me great pleasure to greet and praise the Gypsy Spirit initiative, which recognizes innovative projects that have a positive impact on the life of the Romani community in the Czech Republic. The daily efforts of human rights defenders and others contributing to integration and the fight against the persistent discrimination and marginalization of Romani people are an inspiration to us all. These concrete examples give us hope that together we can insure Romani people have full-fledged access to their inalienable rights throughout Europe and the entire world," said High Commissioner Pillay.

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