Slovak Communications Provider Incites Hatred of Roma
07 February 2004
During a meeting on August 29, 2003, in Košice, Slovakia, Mr Ivan Hriczko, a Romani activist and Executive Director of the non-governmental organisation Slovak Roma Press Agency, informed the ERRC that the mobile communications company Orange Slovensko, a.s. promotes anti-Romani sentiment among its mobile subscribers in Slovakia in the form of racist "jokes". Mr Hriczko had received two such "jokes" sent by electronic text message to his mobile telephone. The first such "joke" stated:
"What does a cow do? Mooo. What does a dog do? Bark-bark. What does a Gypsy do? A Gypsy doesn't do anything."
The second such "joke" stated:
"Two ten-year-old Gypsy girls are talking to each other.
Rozika: Aranka, are you still a virgin?
Aranka: I still am Rozika.
Rozika: Why? Is your daddy impotent?
ERRC research subsequently revealed 90 similar forms of "humour" or hate speech were readily available on Orange Slovensko, a.s.'s Internet website to all people, not only Orange subscribers.
On September 2, 2003, the ERRC sent a letter to Mr Pavol Lančarič, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Slovensko, a.s., carbon copied to Mr Daniel Lipšic, the Slovak Minister of Justice, and Mr Sol Trujillo, Chief Executive Officer of Orange. The ERRC expressed its concern that a corporation with a publicly stated commitment to corporate social responsibility, such as Orange Slovensko, a.s., would issue such blatantly racist statements both on its website and to its mobile subscribers in the form of text messages. The ERRC demanded that all anti-Romani statements immediately be removed from the website of Orange Slovensko, a.s. and forthwith not be circulated in any form, as well as that Orange Slovensko, a.s. issue a public apology to Slovak Roma. The ERRC also requested that the individual(s) within Orange Slovensko, a.s. responsible for the offensive messages be internally sanctioned and that Orange Slovensko, a.s. make a substantial donation to Slovak Romani organisations. On the same date, Orange Slovensko, a.s. removed racist "jokes" targeting Roma and homosexuals from its website. In a response dated September 11, 2003, Orange Slovensko, a.s. expressed its regret about the incident and welcomed Slovak Romani organisations to apply to its community support programme for financial donations.
In other news related to incitement to racial hatred and threats to human rights defenders in Slovakia, unknown perpetrators posted a list of "enemies of the white race" on a neo-Nazi website and encouraged skinheads to kill those named, according to the Slovak English-language newspaper The Slovak Spectator (Spectator) of August 18, 2003. Mr Ladislav Ďurkovič, head of the Bratislava-based non-governmental organisation People Against Racism, was quoted as having stated that the list includes the personal data of people who signed a petition to free Mr Mário Bango. Mr Bango, a 19-year-old Romani youth, is currently imprisoned for the killing by stabbing of an ethnic Slovak named Mr Branislav Slamko on March 10, 2001. Mr Bango's defenders claim that Mr Slamko was a racist skinhead and that Mr Bango had acted in self-defence in the case (additional information on this case is available at: www.errc.org). The website lists the names and addresses of nearly 30 people and advises, "On these [people on the list] you can practice [techniques of] pursuit, taking pictures, house surveillance, and, of course, attacks, e.g. one on one, two on one, five on one, night or day attacks, in town, on a bus, simply anywhere." The website also states, "All of these addresses and names have been checked. You can therefore be 100 percent sure that if you attack anyone listed here, you will a kill a person who really deserves it. We are national socialists, and we have no reason to attack normal white people." The website, which was originally hosted on a Russian server, had been moved to www.nsinfo.org at the time of publication.
According to the Spectator, the Slovak Ministry of the Interior announced that Slovak police, along with Interpol, were attempting to identify the individual or group behind the website, but refused to disclose more information for fear of endangering the investigation.
(ERRC, Slovak Spectator)