Police arrested three Turkish nationals traveling on Prague's ring
road for allegedly trying to smuggle 22 people from Iraq, Syria and Turkey
into Germany; the group was found hidden in the back of their van. The
suspects are believed to have smuggled some 100 people or so across the
border in the past.
The news was confirmed on Friday by the spokesman for the National Centre Against Organized Crime Jaroslav Ibehej. If found guilty, the trio could face up to eight years in jail.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad
al-Hussein, has criticised the Czech Republic for alleged discrimination of
the Roma minority and segregation of Roma children in schools.
In his speech at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, he called on the Czech government to compensate Roma women who were sterilised in the past without their full consent and to terminate the use of both surgical and chemical castration for sex offenders.
Municipal police officers have focussed on areas where homeless people
sleep, in an effort to get them to go indoors, to various shelters for the
night. The move comes at a time when the Czech Republic has been hit by
extremely cold weather.
Officers doing their rounds, whether in Prague or towns like Ústí nad Labem and Zlín, have encouraged those sleeping rough to take shelter and have been providing information. Temperatures have fallen well below zero at night, putting lives at risk.
As Arctic conditions take a grip on Central Europe night and day shelters
are filling up with homeless people and charity organizations are seeking
them out on the street to offer assistance. One person is already reported
to have died in Prague as a result of the freezing cold weather.
The situation is expected to worsen in the coming days with night temperatures dropping to – 20 and even – 30 degrees Celsius in places. Children and chronically ill people have been advised to stay indoors.
International human rights agency Amnesty International has criticized the
position taken by Czech politicians on refugees and immigrants.
In its latest report on human rights, Amnesty said politicians, including the president and minister of interior, made xenophobic remarks last year.
The report also criticised the country for the unequal access of Roma to education and the long running failure to buy out a pig farm at the site of a WWII Roma camp used by the Nazis. An agreement to buy out the farm has since been signed.
Former interior minister Milan Chovanec said the Czech position saved the country from the biggest waves of immigrants. The president’s spokesman denounced the report as insignificant nonsense.
The Czech Interior Ministry has granted asylum to eight Chinese Christians seeking protection in the country on the grounds of religious persecution. The requests of seventy other applicants were rejected. A lawyer representing the group of Chinese Christians has said she will advise them to appeal the decision.
For nearly 20 years, the Multicultural Centre Prague has been involved in promoting human rights and respect for cultural diversity. Their activities and projects focus on the social and economic advancement of migrants in the Czech Republic or inclusion of socially disadvantaged minorities. I met with the centre’s director Zuzana Schreiberová to discuss some of their activities, including a project called Prague Shared and Divided or the recently published Prague-Warsaw newspaper:
Czech police on Friday stopped two lorries carrying 35 foreigners,
including 13 children, on the D5 motorway heading towards the main western
border crossing with Germany at Rozvadov. According to police spokeswoman
Veronika Horková, the lorries came from Romania through Hungary and
The migrants, who most likely come from Eastern Europe, were placed in a detention centre and will be questioned to determine whether they have asked for asylum anywhere in Europe. The drivers of the lorries have also been detained on suspicion of people smuggling.
Jaroslava Doležalová has become an honorary citizen of her home town Žďár nad Sázavou. She hid a little Jewish girl during WW II and probably saved her life, risking her own and her husband's in the process. Hardly anybody knew about it for a very long time and it has only been brought to public attention now, more than seven decades later. So, Mrs. Doležalová in the 93rd year of her life receives well-deserved, even if long-delayed, accolades and praise. But her story also reveals something less praiseworthy about the Czech attitude toward
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Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events