Former Czech caretaker prime minister, now vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Jan Fischer said in an interview for Euro magazine that he was shocked by the intolerant remarks with regard to gays and lesbians made by some Czech public officials. He said that in his view tackling extremism was as important as introducing reforms and fully supported calls for the dismissal of Ladislav Bátora. Mr. Fischer said the ball was in the prime minister’s court and pointed out that if the prime minister was not in a position to sack Mr. Bátora himself he could certainly recall the education minister for failing to act.
Czeslaw Walek, who studied law with a focus on human rights, has been in the media a lot in recent weeks, due to his role as the director of the Prague Pride festival. Previously, he has held government offices such as director of the Office of the Council for Roma Affairs. He has lived in both Krakow and Budapest and is a member of the Czech Republic’s Polish minority. He speaks about his work, human rights and how he feels the first Prague Pride festival went.
The Czech Republic is facing heightened ethnic tension between Romanies and the majority population. In parts of northern Bohemia, animosity between the two groups culminated on Friday after two public gatherings, staged allegedly to protest against rising crime levels in the region, turned into openly racist rallies calling on the Romanies to leave. The government hopes to calm things down by increasing the police presence in the region. But experts warn that more comprehensive action is needed to prevent divisions between the communities from
The Rumburk area of Northern Bohemia has been calm since Friday’s demonstrations, despite threats from extremist groups. Police say they are maintaining a state of readiness though there have been no further demonstrations. An open letter to Prime Minister Nečas was sent on behalf of the local Roma community warning that the radicalisation of the public is limiting personal freedom and threatening their well-being and property. The civic association Romea reports that one family left Rumburk after their neighbours threatened to kill them. Tensions between the Czech and Roma communities have been high in recent weeks amid two, apparently racially-motivated attacks carried out by Roma in the area. A demonstration of some 1,500 locals on Friday ended in an unauthorised march through a Roma ghetto where some property was destroyed.
A demonstration highlighting recent unrest between Roma and Czech communities in the North Bohemian town of Rumburk on Friday evening ended in an unauthorised march through a Roma ghetto. Five people were arrested after sticks were thrown at windows and a fence was destroyed. The demonstration was attended by some 1,500 people protesting a recent rise in violent crime in the area perpetrated by newly arriving Roma. The crowd was prevented from approaching individual residential buildings by riot police. Czech Television reported that the buildings were mostly empty as their residents had left in anticipation of the demonstrations. The current unrest was sparked by a local incident last weekend in which six young people were attacked by 20 Roma; seven people were charged with riotous conduct and grievous bodily harm with a racial motive.
In related news, demonstrations – which have not been sanctioned by local authorities -began in Varnsdorf and Šluknov on Friday afternoon. More than 200 people in Varnsdorf turned up. A third demonstration also got under way in Rumburk, but shortly after five pm only several dozen people were on the square. Local politicians were most wary of the demonstration in Rumburk, which was originally planned by a group with reported ties to the neo-Nazi movement. In the end the demonstration was taken up by local Social Democrats who booked the square earlier.
Czech police will maintain a heightened presence in areas of North Bohemia for at least two or three weeks, the police president Petr Lessy announced late Thursday after meeting with officials in Rumburk. Patrols in the area have been reinforced in reaction to growing tension between members of the local Roma and non-Roma community, and are intended to drive local crime down. The town of Šluknov has registered a number of violent incidents in recent weeks, while Rumburk was the site of a street fight and allegedly racially-motivated attack last weekend involving more than 20 people. On Friday some 200 police officers will monitor demonstrations that are expected to go ahead in Rumburk and Varnsdorf. In roughly three weeks, the police will assess developments and consider further steps, the police president said.
One of the attackers in Sunday’s mass street fight in the north Bohemian town of Rumburk turned himself in to the police early on Thursday morning. The 25-year-old man was charged with racially motivated attempted bodily harm, a police spokesman said. If convicted, the man will face up to 12 years in prison. The police had earlier charged six other attackers in connection with the street fight; two of them have been arrested. On Sunday, ethnic tensions in the poor northern Bohemian region of Šluknov culminated in a street fight when around 20 Romanies attacked six ethnic Czechs. The Czech government has meanwhile reinforced police presence in the region, sending in a unit of riot police.
A town in the Czech Republic is taking unusual measures to combat the problem of homeless people bothering other members of the public – the town council plans to ban lying, sitting or even leaning on concrete waste bins, flights of steps and patches of grass. The town’s mayor says the ban is a last-ditch solution after all other means failed, but homeless advocacy groups say the plan is ridiculous.
Police have charged one person in connection with an attack in Rumburk at the weekend with bodily harm and harm with racial intent. If found guilty, he could face up to 12 years in prison. A second Roma suspect is under investigation and the police are searching for other members of a group of up to 20 aggressors who attacked four people leaving a local discotheque. The incident took place at around five am on Sunday morning; the victims said they were followed by the assailants who allegedly beat them with telescopic batons. Police have not ruled out additional charges in the case.
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