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.
Just a week ago Czech neo-Nazis fought a pitched battle with police who prevented them from marching through a Romany neighbourhood of a north Bohemian town. With the extremists threatening more of the same, one Romany group has issued a stark warning to the government – if far-right extremism is not addressed, there could be mass emigration among the country’s Romany population.
Members of the Romany minority from northern Moravia have warned that mass Romany emigration might occur if the government does not deal with right-wing extremism in the country. In a letter addressed to PM Minister Mirek Topolánek on Friday, they said the many Romany families were already seriously considering leaving the country. Last week, a march of some 500 right-wing extremists took place in the northern Bohemian town of Litvínov, with a large Romany community. 16 people were injured in clashes with the police. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek told the local authorities in Litvínov on Friday that the government was going to address the problem at its next session.
The Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek added his support this week to calls to ban the far-right Workers Party, following the worst violence in the country for eight years. The clashes erupted in the town of Litvínov on Monday, when some 600 neo-Nazi skinheads tried to march on a housing estate inhabited by members of the Roma minority. But the sight of local people cheering on the skinheads and urging the police to let them attack their Romani neighbours has led some to warn of a looming ethnic conflict.
The Czech government has suspended the issuing of long-term visas for Vietnamese nationals. The reason? The application process in Hanoi seems to be controlled by criminal gangs. What’s more, this move comes just days after a new report suggested Vietnamese citizens here in the Czech Republic were increasingly involved in organised crime.
On Monday the Czech Republic witnessed some of its worst street violence in recent memory when hundreds of right-wing extremists in the north Bohemian town of Litvínov clashed with Czech police. In the incident, Neo-Nazis veered away from a planned march and attempted to attack a nearby Roma suburb, highlighting long-growing tensions between the local Roma and non-Roma community. The battle lasted some three hours and led to several arrests and more than a dozen injuries.
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