Tag Archives: czech republic

Verärgert im Visaladen

Wofür sind Konsularabteilungen gut? Im Fall einiger Länder geht es wohl einfach darum, durch den Verkauf von Visa Extra-Einnahmen zu machen. Die indische Botschaft in Prag macht dabei voll von der Tatsache Gebrauch, dass sich auf eigenem Hoheitsgebiet die Preise so beliebig wie Hausnummern aufstellen lassen.

Für tschechische Kollegen kostet das Visum 800 CZK (ca. 32 EUR), für mich als Deutschen 2100 CZK (ca. 84 EUR). 84 Euro halte ich für einen gesalzenen Preis, wobei ich also allein für meine Staatsbürgerschaft 50 Euro mehr bezahle als einheimische EU-Mitbürger. Das teuerste an meinem Pass sind nun mit Abstand die indischen Visa.

Es ist ärgerlich, dass ich mit Hauptwohnsitz in Tschechien die selben Steuern zahle und das selbe Einkommen habe wie meine einheimischen Kollegen, aber mehr als doppelt so viel für das Visum berappen darf. Oder wird von mir erwartet, dass ich zur deutschen Botschaft nach Berlin fahre? Aber selbst da müsste ich vermutlich mehr bezahlen, weil ich meinen Wohnsitz nicht in Deutschland habe. Es erinnert mich nicht wenig an den Zwangsumtausch damals zu Zeiten des Ostblocks.

Vielleicht sollte ich erwähnen, dass ich die Gebühr nicht aus eigener Tasche begleiche, sondern aus dem Projektbudget. Aber das macht die Sache auch nicht besser. Denn das Geld soll keine Botschafterfamilie ernähren, sondern Flüchtlinge.

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Birthday event for Aung San Suu Kyi

Here are some photos we took at the birthday event for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as part of a global campaign. It was mainly organized by the organization People in Need and we contributed cartoons by Harn Lay and some words by our director.
One of the main reasons why we still held this event although the Lady is already released from house arrest are the over 2000 political prisoners in Burma. They are the proof that there is a lot wrong about the present Burmese “democracy”.

Check out our photos:

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A new home…

after spending six months living together in the asylum center in usti nad labem, the 40-odd refugees who arrived in summer last year will soon move to their new homes in several towns across the czech republic.

with one exception, each family will move to a town where they will be the only burmese family. while this will no doubt help with their integration into czech society, as they will have only czech neighbours, colleagues, and friends, it will be difficult to be without a burmese community and support network. the refugees have had 600 hours of czech lessons, but they are of course not yet fluent in the language and this will initially affect the depth of relations they can establish with their new neighbours or schoolmates.

that being said, the refugees are heading to their new communities with a great attitude. last sunday, they organized a going-away ‘party’ for themselves, featuring prayer, song, and friendship, and all crowded into the TV room at the asylum center. very kindly, we were invited to join them. before a delicious burmese lunch, a member of each family spoke for a few minutes to the group on the times they have shared together so far and the challenges ahead – and how saying ‘dobry den’ and having a positive attitude will go a long way in easing the transition. everyone is really excited about moving to their own flat (which they have already visited), and feels strong and ready to start their new life. while my own move to the czech republic was in no way similar to theirs, i was able to say a few words on how, with time, they will feel at home in this country.

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Focus on Burma, on Journalism, and on NGOs

Focus on Burma 2010 - Zaotřeno na Barmu 2010Again, one big amount of work taking our days and nights has finally fallen off from our shoulders:

Focus on Burma 2010 is out!

You may notice that this issue contains only 28 pages (including the cover). A rigidly reduced budget for this year cannot pass unseen. The front page, however, has gained some colors while the inner block remains black and white.

More than thousand words is worth a table of contents. So here you go:

Independendent Burmese Journalism

Zarni Mann: Freedom of the Press Still a Mystery in Burma

Jaromír Marek: Where is the Burmese Media Heading?

Media and Activities for Burma

Tereza Blahoutová: The Presentation of Burmese Refugees in Czech Media

Christoph Amthor: Escaping Invisibility

Resettlement to the Czech Republic: Info Boxes

Facts and Figures About the Resettlement of Burmese Refugees

Activities and Support Provided by Burma Center Prague, o.p.s.

We are happy that this year we can again offer a bilingual issue, emphasizing our local positioning and global ambitions.

Please download your copy from this page.

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Burmas Wahlen in tschechischen Medien? Eine Antwort im Video

Ein Nachtrag zu unserer Reise: Mizzima News hat eine kurze Reportage erstellt und dazu “unsere” drei Journalisten interviewt, wie tschechische Medien über die Wahlen in Burma berichten werden:


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the week that was

suddenly it’s friday and i haven’t written since monday. we have, however, been on the go quite a bit, visiting various groups around west delhi. i think the score with delhi is 3-2:


-the rain got me via mini-floods the day i didn’t wear my rainboots

-that same day i slipped on the stairs at the BCD office and got myself some lovely bruises

-today was suddenly hot and my feet roasted in my rainboots, and my czech colleagues made fun of me all day


-i’ve mastered the back streets enough to know my way around and even say hi to the same locals i see every day

-i’ve not yet succumbed to delhi belly (knock wood)

but it’s not about me that i should be writing, rather the people i’ve met here. on tuesday we went to the mizzima news agency, one of whose founders is soe myint, who at one point in his ‘activist career’ hijacked a plane from thailand  to india, after having lived on the border as a member of the student army. he now runs mizzima, a burmese exile media agency, in new delhi. they do undercover reports with journalists inside burma, have a news website, and even do a weekly radio drama for soldiers in burma. our three czech journalists – honza, jaromir, and martin – are doing a mutual mentorship program at mizzima. they learn more about burma and how exile media works, and then share tips on their respective areas of reporting – tv, radio, and print/online.

the BCP team left the journalists at mizzima and went to a meeting with the ambassador at the czech embassy. the embassy used to be much bigger, but after the czech and slovak republics split, they basically cut the embassy in half. the ambassador recieved us and asked all about our program here in delhi, including both our microgrants (www.mikrogranty.cz) and the journalists’ mentorship. you may ask: what’s the connection between the czech republic and burma? why does BCP get funding from the czech ministry of foreign affairs? the czech republic has a program called “transitions” – the idea being that the CR went through the transition from totalitarianism to democracy and thus is able to help other countries do the same; burma is a priority country in this program. vaclav havel has also been a long supporter of the free burma movement, and was actually the one who nominated ASSK for the nobel peace prize she received.  we’re lucky to have the czech ambassador coming monday to open our media workshop at the press club of india.

the rest of the week has included visits to different groups that have received microgrants from BCP. these include several women’s unions that teach weaving and sewing so that women can earn a living, and also offer language classes for burmese children; two free medical clinics for refugees; two organizations printing news and literary magazines in ethnic languages, and a group selling burmese fast food as a means of making a living. having heard the stories of many refugees here, i understand why these projects are so important. burmese refugees may have to wait one or two years to get a refugee status determination interview, and while they are waiting they have no right to work, to get healthcare, or to security. while some refugees get jobs with local indian businesses, they are often exploited. it’s not safe for women to walk alone after dark, and some are widows that need to look after their children at home. so having the opportunity to work for a burmese ‘company’ (of course all in the informal economy) or to work from home is essential. To date so far in 2010, there have been 50 documented cases of violence against refugees, with many more going unreported as the police often do little when such cases are reported. one of the groups we visited provides emergency help to people who have been victims of violence, taking someone from an indian (not burmese) NGO with them to the police station to lodge a complaint, and providing funds for medical care at a hospital. the two medical clinics provide a tremendous service but of course lack funds for a sufficient amount of medicine and cannot be open every day of the week.

 all the people from these groups have been so grateful and extended truly heartfelt thanks for the funding they received, in particular those that received their first-ever grant from BCP, and were able to start up a project. it doesn’t really get any better than that.

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how to make ‘svačina’

a second group of burmese refugees arrived on august 17th, straight from a refugee camp in thailand. like the group that arrived in july, these new asylum seekers will spend 6 months in an integration centre in usti nad labem, while their applications are processed. during this time they will also receive czech lessons and try to adapt to their new home country.

this being september, around the world kids have started up at school again, and for the burmese children it’s no different. some of these kids, however, have lived their whole lives inside a refugee camp, and have no experience with formal education. likewise their parents aren’t necessarily aware of what is required for ‘back to school’. and so it was that sabe and i were at the integration center in usti, first to show this new group the documentary film that we showed to the previous arrivals, and also, perhaps more importantly, to show them how to make ‘svačina’ for school.

while showing the refugees how to make a sandwich, we taught such words as ‘rohlík’, ‘sýr’, and ‘šunka’. most were trying these foods for the first time. apples were a big hit. sabe made most of the sandwiches initially and then was slowly able to get the women up to try making one on their own. i thought our biggest achievement was at the end, when one lone man came up and made a sandwich. after we wrote down some of the czech food words for him on a piece of paper, he laughed and said “i’ll just serve my family bread!”.

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