Asian Dub Foundation defend Roma rights in Prague

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

Asian Dub Foundation are a socially active and politically conscious young band from Britain who are - as their name suggests - of Asian origin. Their sound is an exciting mix of rock, dance and Indian music. When they played at Prague's Roxy club last week, Radio Prague's Ian Willoughby spoke with the group's John Pandit about race, politics and the group's travels in the Central and Eastern Europe region. He first asked John Pandit about the history of the band.

"Asian Dub Foundation are a band that's been going now since 1993 originally. We came out of an education project based in London called CM - Community Music. We got a workshop together to teach young Asians and to work with them, to explore the different music they were making using digital technology. It was more of an education project that became a sound system and then became a band. What you'll see on stage tonight is about - there's eight of us on stage now. So we've progressed and developed over the years - and that's Asian Dub Foundation."

The first time you played in Prague you made a statement on stage saying that people should have more respect for Romanies - why did you make that statement?

"In some of our travels in Eastern Europe - and particularly at the time and still today in the UK, there's been this issue about refugees and you know, "refugees are taking everything from the state - they're spongers"- all the kind of racism. In the UK in particular what's happening to many people - and people who come from here and Bulgaria and other people - they're seen as spongers. It's really racist abuse. We know in this country and many Central European countries the plight of the Romanies is being totally ignored, and what happens to people is outrageous. We played in Budapest - when we first went out there people thought we were Romanies, wouldn't let us into bars. When we talk to the Romanies they regard themselves as Asians - of course they are - they're the people who came over on the silk route, about 500 to 600 to 1000 years ago over into Europe and settled here and worked - so we don't see ourselves as very much different from them. We're all Romanies now today - anybody who moves around the world trying to find work - displaced people is how the world operates these days. So people have to have respect - and see that the people who are Romanies aren't different, they're not outsiders or whatever. They're an intrinsic part of the country - an intrinsic part of this country."