A German citizen who participated in a May 1 gathering of far-right extremists in Brno will be charged for hate speech by Czech police. He is facing a prison sentence of up to five years. The German man, a member of the far-right party NPD, was speaking to a group of right-wing extremists in the Czech city in German. A tape of the speech was analyzed by an expert, who found several passages were in conflict with Czech law. Some 400 extremists had participated in the gathering on May 1,2011, and ten participators are currently facing criminal investigation.
The security situation in parts of North Bohemia, where tension between the Roma and non-Roma communities has been rising for weeks, failed to improve at the weekend – just the opposite. An illegal demonstration against the Roma community again tested police, who on Saturday blocked almost 1,000 participants from making their way to a local Roma settlement. Allegedly organised by a neo-Nazi group, the protest is seen as evidence that extremist groups are trying to exploit the deteriorating situation for their own ends.
Close to a thousand people marched through the streets of Varnsdorf on Saturday calling for the authorities to take action against rising crime in the north of the country. The protest –one of many in recent days – was directed against the local Romany minority which is being blamed for the deteriorating security situation. In recent weeks the town witnessed several serious incidents of racially motivated violence and street wars between Romany gangs. The protesters headed for a Roma settlement in town, where around 150 Romanies were waiting, ready to defend their turf, but the police, which had received reinforcements, managed to keep the groups apart. The local authorities are struggling to deal with the growing ethnic tension and there are fears that neo-Nazis will abuse the situation for their own ends.
Police are out in force in the town of Varnsdorf which has witnessed growing ethnic tension between the majority population and the Roma minority. For the second day in a row hundreds of people took to the streets to protest against rising crime and the presence of the Romany minority in the town. Public anger reached a head following several serious incidents of racially motivated violence and street wars between Romany gangs. The local authorities are struggling to deal with the situation and there is concern that neo-Nazis could turn it in their favour.
Three comic strips reflecting the life of the Romany minority in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have just hit bookshelves in France, published by the Ca et La publishing house. The work of Romany students, the strips are “documentary” in character and tell the life-stories of a 60-year-old ailing and poverty-stricken Romany man, a 12 year-old Romany girl from Prague and a 45-year-old Romany woman who spent most of her life in various Romany settlements in Slovakia. The work was co-financed by the European Cultural Fund.
Around 300 people took part in a rally in Varnsdorf, North Bohemia, on Friday protesting against local Roma residents; the municipality has seen a rise in violent crime and tension between the ethnic Roma and non-Roma communities in recent weeks, leading the police to reinforce patrols in the area. Demonstrators attempted to march to a local boarding house, and the crowd grew to 500 hundred, but participants were stopped by riot police. No incidents were reported. Officially the protest was supposed to have been against nuclear waste. The rally was reportedly organized by Lukáš Kohout, who was caught in 2002 pretending to be an aide to former MP and former foreign minister Jan Kavan.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Tuesday that he considers the controversy around Ladislav Bátora, the head of human resources at the Education Ministry, resolved. He added that he had been assured by officials from the government coalition’s TOP 09 party that they would attend a meeting of the cabinet scheduled for Wednesday. Previously, the party, which is led by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, had refused to attend cabinet meetings until Mr. Bátora was dismissed. Mr. Bátora came under fire for his past links to an ultra-right party and for making insulting remarks about the foreign minister online, sparking a row within the governing coalition. Education Minister Josef Dobeš of the Public Affairs party bowed to growing pressure for Mr. Bátora’s dismissal on Monday evening, saying that he would be transferred to a less prominent position.
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
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