Around 150 extremists and other people opposed to conditions in a district of Litvínov largely populated by Romanies held an unauthorised march on Saturday. The north Bohemian town saw running battles between hundreds of neo-Nazis and the police last month. Meanwhile, a group of anarchists held a demonstration in Prague against racism.
Around 300 members and supporters of the far-right Workers’ Party staged a protest in Prague on Saturday against a government proposal to have the party outlawed on the grounds that its activities frequently overstep the boundaries of the law. The protest took place right outside Clarion Hotel, the site of the weekend conference of the Civic Democratic Party, and was kept in check by some 500 officers. The leader of the Workers Party Tomas Vandas accused the government of suppressing freedom of speech and said that the party would remain a force to be reckoned with under this name or another.
In Business News this week: Czechs are spending much less on their Christmas shopping this year than last; the US has put the Czech Republic on a pirate-goods blacklist; unions claim that Škoda Auto is to cut back operations by three percent, and Czech sport is feeling the effects of the global financial crisis.
The European Court of Justice criticized the Czech Republic on Thursday for the absence of gender equality laws. The court concluded that the Czech Republic had failed to incorporate EU rules on gender equality into its own legislature. The Court will now send the issue back to the European Commission, which filed the lawsuit against the Czech Republic. If the country fails to adopt the laws, the procedure will begin anew and might result in heavy fines. A gender equality act was approved by the Czech Parliament in March of this year but was vetoed by President Klaus.
Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean met Czech President Václav Klaus on Monday, within her two-week Central European tour. In the scenic setting of Prague Castle’s Octagon Room, the governor general stressed that Canada maintained special ties with Czech Republic – ties which were not threatened by a recent jump in Czech asylum claims over the Atlantic.
A number of Roma representatives from around the country have agreed to call for the ousting of Džamila Stehlíková, the Czech Republic’s Minister for Minorities and Human Rights. The Roma representatives included the noted deputy chairman of the government's Council for Romany Issues Ivan Veselý. The reasons behind the call are said to be Ms Stehlíková’s alleged poor handling of an ongoing situation in the town of Litvínov, north-west of Prague, where far-right groups have marched on Roma housing estates, purportedly calling for a restoration of law and order, but according to Roma, simply terrorising the residents. During the latest event organised by the far-right Workers' Party in Litvinov, about 1000 riot policemen clashed with some 500 far-right radicals, in an incident that was described as some the worst of its kind seen in the Czech Republic for many years. Ms Stehlíková has dismissed the calls, stating that in her view, the time is not right to be apportioning blame.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’” The unforgettable words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., delivered on August 28 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The speech, addressed to a crowd of a quarter of a million, was a defining moment in the American civil rights movement, and its echoes reached as far as communist Eastern Europe. In Czechoslovakia the civil rights movement had already aroused
Directors of the Simon Weisenthal Centre – an international Jewish human rights organisation – have written to the Czech Interior Ministry regarding riots recently held by neo-Nazis in north Bohemia. The organisation’s head of international relations, Shimon Samuels, wrote in a letter that when all Czechs are ‘children or grandchildren of the victims of totalitarian regimes’ it is ‘incomprehensible’ that a minority, this time the Romany, are being attacked in such a way on Czech soil. Mr Samuels added that the way the government now deals with the riots will prove a ‘litmus test’ which will set the tone for the country’s upcoming EU presidency. Mr Samuels voiced his concern that members of the Czech Republic’s military and police force were reported to have been involved in the riots.
The government is seeking the banning of the Workers’ Party, the far-right grouping who made international headlines after trying to attack a largely Romany estate in a north Bohemian town last week. At the same time, the party’s leader has already said that if they are banned they will simply come back under a different name.
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