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Czech Roma activist, former MP Ladislav Body dies

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Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) – Czech Roma activist and former MP Ladislav Body, who was defending the interests of the Roma minority not only in parliament, died on Saturday at the age of 68 years, the server reported on Sunday.

In 1990, in the first democratic parliamentary election after the 1989 collapse of the communist regime, Body was elected for the Communists (KSCM) to the Czech National Council (CNR) that turned into the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, after the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Body defended his mandate in 1992, running for the Left Bloc, comprised of the KSCM and smaller leftist entities.

“While several Roma people were elected to the supreme bodies of Czechoslovakia for the 1990-92 election term, after the 1992 election, Ladislav Body was the only Roma deputy to the Czech parliament due to the election debacle of the Roma Civic Initiative (ROI),” the website says.

Body was nor running for parliament in 1996. He tried to return to politics two years later on the list of candidates of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in north Bohemia, but he was not elected.

Another Roma candidate, Monika Horakova Mihalickova, chairwoman of the government commission for the Roma community, was elected to the Chamber of Deputies then. Se was running for the Freedom Union (US) in Prague.

After his departure from parliament, Body continued to deal with Roma issues. He worked as an official at the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry and headed a commission to tackle problems of people who can hardly find jobs in the labour market.

He was also involved in protests against the wall built in Maticni street in Usti nad Labem, north Bohemia, a town with a strong Roma population, in 1999 to separate community flats for rent defaulters, mainly Roma people, from several family houses on the opposite side. It was torn down after protests from abroad.

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