Anti-Roma sentiments continue to be a major issue in the Czech society, according to an annual report by the European Network Against Racism, an advocacy group. The report says little progress has been achieved in fighting discrimination against Roma children many of whom are still placed in schools for mentally handicapped pupils. The Czech Romany community also faces attacks and discrimination on the labour market, in housing and other areas. In other EU countries, the report mainly focused on the rise of islamophobia.
King and King (Koning und Koning), a young children’s book by authors Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland that was first published in Dutch but has since been translated into English and several other languages, is slated to soon get a Czech edition. The children’s book tells the story of young prince Bertie who must marry in order to inherit the kingdom. The twist is that he falls not for the princess but for her brother.
In his inauguration speech, Miloš Zeman repeated a previously expressed intention to represent the “lower 10 million”, meaning all but the country’s elite. Mr. Zeman said his office would serve as a neutral space for dialogue between the parties in parliament, but also other significant organisations, adding that he wished to serve as a mediator, not a judge. He also pledged to fight the mafia, neo-Nazis and sections of the media, which he accused of brain-washing the public.
At the start of The Invisible Men, which is being shown at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, a gay Palestinian named Louie describes how his father – on discovering his sexual orientation – brutally attacked him, slashing his face open with a knife. Louie has moved to Israel where he is relatively safe (and even wears a Star of David to blend in), but he faces great uncertainty every day. Prior to a screening, the film’s Israeli director Yariv Mozer outlined the predicament of such “invisible men”.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice will try to reach an out-of-court settlement
with the relatives of a Vietnamese man who died as a result of police
brutality. The victim’s mother is suing the state for her son’s death
and has demanded 50 million crowns in compensation. On Tuesday the court
postponed further hearings until April at her request to give the two
time to reach an out-of-court settlement. Minister Kubice said he thought
the mother wanted moral satisfaction first and foremost and would be
willing to settle for a significantly lower sum if she received a proper
apology from the state.
The incident took place in Brno in 2005. A woman called the police because she thought she had found drugs in her apartment which she shared with 43-year-old Vietnamese man. The man was brutally assaulted by the police and later died of internal injuries in hospital. The officer responsible was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
The Czech Education Ministry has come up with new legislation that should curb the practice of placing disproportionately high number of Roma children in special schools, the news website idnes.cz reported on Sunday. The Czech Republic has been consistently criticized for including many Roma children into programmes for children with light mental disabilities. The new legislation will oblige school directors to report the number of pupils in such programmes, a statistics that is now not available. The ministry also wants to increase control over institutions diagnosing schoolchildren, and introduce standards to make sure only mentally disabled children are included in the programmes. The new legislation should come into force in July.
Around one third of homeless people living in the Czech Republic seek assistance, according to a new survey by the Czech Statistical Office and social services providers which was released on Friday. About the same number of them also have jobs. The survey counted 11.500 homeless people; however, the real number of people living in the streets could be three times higher. The highest number of the homeless – 2,600 – was registered in the northern Moravian-Silesian region, followed by Prague and South Moravia.
A court case against 18 right-wing extremists opened in Brno on Monday. Some of the accused are members of neo-Nazi bands such as Devils Guard, Imperium or Attack. The others assisted in organizing at least 14 concerts in the years 2008 and 2009 at which they distributed the band’s CDs, leaflets, badges and neo-Nazi memorabilia. If convicted of spreading Nazi ideology members of the group would each face up to eight years in prison. It is one of the biggest court cases against neo-Nazis in the country’s modern history.
A new rap video exhorting Roma parents not to allow their kids to be sent to special schools for the mentally handicapped is currently doing the rounds on YouTube. So far it’s been seen over 25,000 times, a respectable number for the Czech Republic, and has several hundred ‘likes’. It’s the work of a Czech NGO involved in the decade-long struggle to get Roma kids into regular primary schools.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic church, Archbishop Dominik Duka, hosted Christmas lunch for homeless people. The lunch, organized for the 14th time by the Sant'Egidio community, was held in the Archbishop Palace and the Capuchin Monastery in Hradčany. Some 270 guests arrived to enjoy the traditional liver dumpling soup, beef in cream sauce, roast duck with cabbage and dumplings, and Christmas cookies. Every guest also received a small gift.