Victim See Victim Do

Radovan Krejcir: Czech political asylum seeker. Accused Mobster. Self-Defined Victim aka “the banana skin man.”

Radovan, aka banana skin man, sees himself as a classic scapegoat, the victim of other’s misplaced blame. He is currently in a Pretoria holding cell hamming it up for the media when it serves him and shunning them when it doesn’t. He left the Czech Republic to escape accusations of fraud and tax evasion. He has since been convicted in absentia for tax evasion and charged with six and a half years in prison. While Radovan claims to have been the victim of a political conspiracy, Czech authorities assert that he was part of a vicious Czech crime ring. Radovan retorted that it was the Czech authorities who psychologically and physically tortured him and abducted his father. Perhaps I should mention that Radovan is very wealthy. Oh and that he is being accused of faking cancer in order to secure a pardon. Somewhere, there are allegations that he robbed Pakistani businesses. So, who is Radovan Krejcir? Mobster in sheep’s clothing? A victim impostor? Or innocent business man framed for political gain? The trope of asylum seeker falsely accused or framed is a common one, one that could certainly be capitalized on and employed for ill-gotten gains.

The case of Radovan could be read as a fairy tale example of asylum corruption, where a criminal plays the part of the victim in order to get away with murder so to speak (Radovan is actually also accused of conspiracy to murder by the by). My contention however, is that the co-opting of the victim trope is necessitated by the political asylum system, systematically enforced you could say, and I would. Like most bureaucratic institutions, the political asylum system is both narrowly prescriptive, where cultural contexts like FGM set important precedents that determine what kind of persecution is deemed qualifying and ambiguously contingent on the whims of the judiciaries, in true Kafkan fashion. Often, personal narratives of persecution are collapsed and translated into a language that the courts have been known to recognize. I would argue that one would be hard-pressed to to demonize or criminalize a young girl who experienced life-threatening gender persecution (not necessarily FGM) but who uses the language of FGM in order to make her case legible to the asylum system judiciaries. Furthermore, there is something tautologically confusing about the current asylum system that encourages the victim narrative for political asylum seekers. While it is sensible to expect someone seeking asylum to be the victim of persecution, the work of thinkers like Miriam Ticktin in  Casualties of Care demonstrate how helpless victims are privileged in an asylum system predicated on humanitarian tropes. The helpless, young, innocent female body is the archetype of an asylum seeker whereas the dark young revolutionary Tunisian male fighter is criminalized. His virility is thought to not only foreclose him for the need of aid or assistance but further, that this agentic figure must have ill parasitic intentions to seek help when it is not needed.

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