Romany residents reacted angrily to a so-called patrol by a nationalist group in Litvínov, north Bohemia on Saturday. Around 70 people armed with sticks, golf clubs and other improvised weapons spat and swore at members of the little-known nationalist organisation the Workers Party, who were attempting to carry out what they called a monitoring patrol of the housing estate where the Romanies live. The local police were on the scene and the two sides did not come to blows. The Litvínov authorities have expressed opposition to such “patrols”; the town’s deputy mayor said the police had been given a video recording of Saturday’s incident, and called on them to take action against the dozen Workers Party members involved. The police barred the Workers Party from entering the housing estate in question for the rest of the weekend on public order grounds.
Police in the Czech town of Hodonín have intervened to prevent a planned concert to be staged by Neo-Nazis. The decision was taken to prevent Neo-Nazis from clashing with Roma demonstrators and also a group of anarchists. The police intervention ultimately prevented the Neo-Nazis from gathering in Hodonín, but it was later discovered that they had held a gathering and concert some 20 kilometers from the town, near a village called Šardice. Police have stated that they did not intervene during this gathering as no laws were broken. Locals in the village have stated that they had no idea that such a gathering would take place in their area.
Two far-right extremists have received jail terms for creating a neo-Nazi website. A court in Havlíčkův Brod sentenced Erik Sedláček to three years and Libor Budík to two years for running a site named Final Generation which called for the killing of Jews and denied the Holocaust. Mr Sedláček, who is on the Workers Party ticket for regional elections in mid-October, has appealed the verdict.
A planned protest by members of the right-wing National Party in Brno has fizzled out. The party had planned to protest in front of a mosque, in order to demonstrate against what they view as excessive Muslim influence and to seek an apology for the recent death of the Czech ambassador to Pakistan. In the end, around seven party members entered the mosque, leaving shortly after stating that they had indeed received the apology they were seeking. The entire protest was over. However, representatives from the mosque denied that any apology had been issued, stating that they had nothing to apologise for since they had nothing whatsoever to do with the recent terrorist attacks in Islamabad.
A Romany family in Bruntál, northern Moravia, was attacked early Sunday morning when a Molotov cocktail was thrown into their home. Five people were asleep in the flat at the time of the attack but nobody was hurt. A police spokesperson said that racial hatred was one of the possible motifs of the assault.
A proposal by Regional Development Minister Jiří Čunek to place members of the country’s Roma community into three categories, with the lowest being forced to live in supervised centres, has been described by Romany groups as a ploy ahead of regional and Senate elections. Mr Čunek won a Senate seat – and the leadership of the Christian Democrats – two years ago, after forcing Romany rent defaulters out of the centre of a town where he was mayor. With more than a month to go until the elections, Čunek is already playing the Romany card, Zdeněk Ryšavý of the Romea civic association said on Tuesday. The proposal has little chance of being considered by Jiří Čunek’s cabinet colleagues.
Jíří Čunek, the country’s Deputy PM and Minister for Regional Development has been in trouble several times for his actions and statements regarding Czech Roma. This week, the Christian Democrat leader announced a plan to solve the so-called Roma problem within 10 years. The solution, to segregate Roma into various categories according to their willingness to be “civilized” has raised some eyebrows.
The Minister for Minorities and Human Rights Džamila Stehlíková has said that Czech Roma seeking asylum in Canada should not plead persecution, as the percentage of crime which is racially motivated in this country is less than one percent. The minorities’ minister added that Romanies feeling threatened should seek help at home, from government bodies, NGOs and state institutions rather than seeking asylum abroad. Mrs Stehlíková made the remarks in response to the news that 466 Czechs have sought asylum in Canada since the North-American state raised visa restrictions last November. It is thought that the majority of these asylum seekers are Roma. Canada has said that it is considering reintroducing visa restrictions for Czechs if the number of asylum seekers crosses the 500 mark. Mrs Stehlíková caused anger amongst Romany-rights groups last month when she said that a small minority of Roma were making things hard for all Czechs traveling to Canada by seeking asylum from Ottawa.
Known neo-Nazis continue to serve in elite units within the Czech army, despite the authorities having detailed information about their activities – this according to a report in the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. The paper identified several neo-Nazis within the Czech army back in November, providing evidence of attendance at neo-Nazi gatherings and demonstrations and also photographs of the men holding flags adorned with the swastika. This led to assurances by Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová that the members would be dismissed from the army – Nazi groups are explicitly outlawed in the Czech Republic. According to a new report by the paper, the identified men still remain in the army despite Defence Ministry assurances. The revelations have led to calls from civic groups and also several politicians for the matter to be resolved without further delay.
The Canadian Embassy in Prague is busy making plans for a possible visit by the country’s governor general. Michaëlle Jean is due to visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia in early November, although officials stress the trip has yet to be confirmed. One stop on her proposed Czech itinerary is the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, incidentally at a time when increasing numbers of Romanies are once again applying for asylum in Canada. Radio Prague spoke to Canadian Ambassador Michael Calcott:
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