The Jewish community in Plzen, western Bohemia, is organizing a gathering outside the city’s Great Synagogue on January 19 in protest against a neo-Nazi march planned for that day. The march is supposed to take place two months after a similar event in Prague where thousands gathered in the Jewish quarter to stop neo-Nazis from marching on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The far-right group plans to march past the synagogue in Plzen to protest against restrictions of freedom of speech. Czech Jewish organisations say this is only a pretext as the march will take place on the eve of the anniversary of the first transport of Plzen Jews to Nazi extermination camps during WWII.
Three quarters of young Czechs have a negative attitude towards the Roma, according to a survey of 12 to 20 year olds. The survey, by non-governmental organization People in Need, indicates that Czech teenagers have a negative view of prostitutes, prisoners, drug addicts and homeless people. At the same time, more than three quarters of respondents said there was no discrimination in the Czech society. According to Dzamila Stehlikova, the minister in charge of human rights, the attitude of Czechs towards minorities is not improving fast enough.
The police broke up a skinhead party in the town of Jirkov shortly after midnight on Saturday after several of the locals complained about the noise. The party was attended by close to a hundred skinheads. Four of them refused to comply with police orders and were taken to the local police station for questioning but were later released without charges.
Three suspected neo-Nazis serving in elite units in the Czech Army will almost certainly be sacked by the military, the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes has reported. The newspaper recently broke the news that the three men regularly attended international neo-Nazi meetings and demonstrations, something confirmed by witnesses and the police. The army’s Chief of Staff Vlastimil Picek told the paper that the military police were in charge of the case, but refused to speculate on the final outcome. He did say the army would take a tough stance on extremists from both sides of the political spectrum in the future. He made clear he will propose to Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova that newly enlisted soldiers sign a special statement upon joining the military, confirming they have no allegiance to organisations promoting racial intolerance or hatred.
Eleven Vietnamese nationals have been charged with people trafficking and pimping, the news website Novinky.cz reported. The 11 were arrested on Saturday night by the police’s organised crime unit, which later conducted searches of the suspects’ homes in Prague and Domazlice. There were also raids on three brothels in the capital and one in Cheb.
Sculptor David Cerny’s “Hanging Man” causes a panic in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A young man climbs up Prague’s famous astronomical clock to win a bet! And ski resorts in the south Bohemian mountain range are working around the clock to make artificial snow for Prague. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
Prefabricated blocks of flats from the housing estates inhabited largely
by Czech Romanies may be renovated, using the funds from an EU operational
programme, according to the government council for the Romany community.
The project managed by the Local Development Ministry should take place
between 2007 and 2013 in five localities with over 20,000 residents.
In related news, a new agency was set up to battle social exclusion and to improve housing conditions of Romanies. As of January 2008, the agency will conduct pilot projects in 12 Czech ghettos. It will aim to establish cooperation between authorities, NGOs and residents of the localities. There are currently over 300 ghettos in the country, mostly inhabited by Romanies, with as many as 80,000 people living in them.
The Czech Agency Against Social Exclusion whose goal is to fight against
ghettoisation will begin operating in 12 Czech towns and selected areas as
of January. The Minister in charge of minority issues and human rights,
Dzamila Stehlikova, made the announcement on Friday. The agency will
operate in six areas in Bohemia and six in Moravia. The government will
officially approve its establishment in December, Mrs Stehlikova said.
According to analysis, there are more that 300 sites populated by the poor, mostly Romanies, that need to be addressed. Up to 80,000 people live in the ghettos. Most of adult residents are jobless, leaving families dependent on social benefits, while children are often sent to “special schools” for less gifted students. The government pledged to establish the agency in its policy statement and has set aside financial means for its operation in its next year's draft budget.
According to Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, two members of the elite Czech military rapid response unit are neo-Nazi sympathisers. The newspaper revealed the names of both, as well as the name of a member of the artillery allegedly known to police for neo-Nazi activism. Mlada Fronta Dnes has written that experts consider their place in the military a serious security risk; the daily also noted that troops with extremist leanings in Czech military units could be more widespread. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova has reacted to the news by stressing that appropriate steps will be taken if neo-Nazi leanings among the soldiers are confirmed.
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