Five people have been charged in connection with street violence in Varnsdorf over the weekend where locals joined an extremist march against the Romany minority. Three people were charged with assaulting a police officer, two for wearing Nazi symbols. Ethnic tension has escalated in the region following a number of racially motivated crimes, with demands from the majority population that Romanies be evicted from the area. Extremist groupings are using the opportunity to organize anti-Roma marches and gatherings. The government has sent police reinforcements to the region to maintain law and order and the government’s human rights commissioner is trying to diffuse the crisis.
Some Czech towns reportedly sponge on EU subsidies intended to improve the quality of life and assist the integration of the Romany minority. According to Tyden magazine cities such as Kladno and Ostrava, but also many others, have used such EU subsidies to upgrade town centers, create pedestrian zones, build car parks and finance other projects not directly linked to the Romany minority. The weekly notes that many local administrations are adept at finding a project that appears to meet the criteria, making sure that Romany interests are partially or marginally involved.
An anti-Romany march organized by a far-right party escalated when radicals were joined by locals in an attempted attack on a Romany housing unit in a small town in North Bohemia on Saturday. The event was only the latest in a series of racially-motivated incidents that have occurred in the region in recent weeks, where racial tensions between the Czech and Romany communities have been acerbated by high unemployment and a rise in crime.
Six people, three of them police officers, were injured in demonstrations
and gatherings organized by the Workers Party for Social Justice in the
North Bohemian towns of Varnsdorf, Rumburk and Nový Bor on Saturday. A
total of 41 were arrested. In Varnsdorf, locals joined supporters of the
extremist party in an impromptu march to a Romany neighborhood, where a
police unit intervened and prevented clashes. The police mission is
estimated to have cost hundreds of thousands of crowns. A total of three
four hundred far-right extremists attended the demonstrations, with some
supporters of the party coming from abroad. Interior Minister Jan Kubice
and the deputy chief of police Vladislav Husák were also present in Nový
Ahead of the extremists’ gathering, the government’s human rights commissioner, Monika Šimůnková, called on residents of the three towns to not buy into the arguments of radicals and to carefully consider their participation. For days, police have maintained a state of readiness in the area due to assemblies and demonstrations provoked by tensions between ethnic Czechs and Romanies, which have escalated over the past month.
Some three to four hundred far-right extremists gathered in the North
Bohemian towns of Varnsdorf, Rumburk and Nový Bor on Saturday. The events
in the three towns were organized by the Workers Party for Social Justice
and aimed against the region’s Romany minority. Some two hundred
activists traveled to the area in support of the Romanies who live there.
Dozens of police officers worked to ensure safety; police helicopters
monitored the party gathering and march in Nový Bor. Interior Minister Jan
Kubice and the deputy chief of police Vladislav Husák were also present in
Ahead of the extremists’ gathering, the government’s human rights commissioner, Monika Šimůnková, has called on residents of the three towns to not buy into the arguments of radicals and to carefully consider their participation. For days, police have maintained a state of readiness in the area due to assemblies and demonstrations provoked by tensions between ethnic Czechs and Roma, which have escalated over the past month.
In related news, during a police inspection of a bus in which far-right extremists were traveling to Saturday’s demonstration in North Bohemia, one of the passengers got out of the bus and shot a blank firing revolver at the officers. The perpetrator was arrested. The event happened on Saturday afternoon, a police spokeswoman said. Roughly twelve firearms were confiscated in the inspecting of the bus.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has called a meeting with leaders of the Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic to discuss growing racial tensions in North Bohemia. The government has so far responded to the situation by reinforcing the police presence in the region. Together with Labour Minister Jaromír Drábek, Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa and Culture Minister Jiří Besser, the prime minister plans to discuss the financing of affected municipalities on Friday, ahead of scheduled party gatherings of the far-right Workers Party for Social Justice in three locations in the region on Saturday.
Around three hundred people met on the town square in the Northern Bohemian town of Varnsdorf on Friday and planned to march on a Roma residential building. The organiser of the gathering, Lukáš Kohout, was taken to a police vehicle for questioning; attendees called for his release and whistled at the officers. Kohout is a fraudster, well-known for having passed himself off as a government official on numerous occasions and for provoking police and demonstrators at protests. Friday was the fourth day that police have maintained a state of readiness in the area due to angry assemblies and demonstrations provoked by recent tensions between Czechs and Roma.
Hundreds of police officers will be deployed to the towns of Varnsdorf, Rumburk and Šluknov in North Bohemia on Saturday, when members of the far-right Workers Party for Social Justice are planning to hold a gathering as well as a march. According to a police spokeswoman, clashes between police and extremists at such gatherings in the region have taken place in the past and have to be prepared for. Czech police will be working together with their German colleagues, since the region is located near the Czech-German border and some German citizens may attend the event. Some 200 to 300 people are expected to participate in the march and party gathering. In recent weeks, ethnic tension between Romanies and the majority population in North Bohemia has been building up. In late August, an improvised rally against Romanies took place in Rumburk, when around 1,500 people gathered in the town’s square to protest what they called “rising crime levels” but what was in reality a protest against a series of attacks by Romanies on ethnic Czechs.
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.
Archaeologists find unique grave of Roman era warlord in Uherský Brod
Czech Ambassador to Ethiopia Pavel Mikeš: ‘If you wait long enough, an egg will walk on two legs’
New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
Divided by Freedom – Large-scale Czech Radio survey finds six social classes in Czech society
Josef Becher – the man behind Czech Republic’s iconic liqueur