The Vietnamese make up one of the largest ethnic minorities in the Czech Republic, and the largest official grouping representing them says it is high time they were recognized as such by the government, and have a seat on the board of the Council for National Minorities.
“The Association of Vietnamese in the Czech Republic (SV ČR) and the association of people of Vietnamese nationality have made a request to the government and parliament that it grant the official status of a national minority,” Tran Viet Hung, a member of the Vietnamese community resident here since the 1970s, told the news server Novinky.cz.
Among the privileges of the officially recognized minorities are the right to have signs within municipalities also in their language, the right to have the information about elections in their language (both if the minority comprises at least 10 percent of the municipality's population), the right to education in their language, and cultural rights — including state support for the preservation of traditions.
As of 2010 there were 12 officially recognized minorities in the Czech Republic: Bulgarians, Croatians, Hungarians, Germans, Greeks, Poles, Romanis, Russians, Rusyns, Serbians, Slovaks and Ukrainians.
Apart from the Vietnamese, Belarusians are also looking to obtain the status — however, the Interior Ministry is not keen on seeing this happen, according to Novinky.cz, citing the minutes of an unspecified meeting at which it was said the origins of the communities here don’t have historical roots — and the Vietnamese are not doing enough to integrate.
Community leaders reject this assessment. “For us, as the first generation, Czech is difficult. It’s a barrier. But the second generation already knows the language well. Parents make sure that their children study and do well in school,” said Tran Viet Hung.