In 2007, the Czech Republic was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for the way its education system treated the country’s Romany minority. The court found that Roma children were frequently discriminated against and sent to schools for the disabled, when they did not show signs of learning difficulties. On International Roma Day this Wednesday, the Czech Education Ministry released the results of two studies it commissioned to determine how Roma children are faring in the country’s schools now. I spoke to Education Minister
In related news, a Romany NGO called Gypsy Radical has begun monitoring neo-Nazi activities aimed against the Czech Republic’s Romany minority. According to Monday’s press release, the association’s goals also include getting the Romany community to act non-violently against neo-Nazis. On their website, Gypsy Radical published a review of neo-Nazi events that took place in the northern town of Litvínov in the last four months; the activists said policing of these neo-Nazi activities cost Czech tax-payers more than 10 million crowns, or more than 500,000 US dollars.
Czech police broke up a neo-Nazi concert in the city of Plzeň, western Bohemia, in the early hours of Sunday after one of the performers played a song with racist lyrics. About 100 riot police intervened and stopped the performance by three foreign and one Czech band attended by some 150 far-right sympathizers. No one was wounded in the incident while seven persons were detained on suspicions of inciting racial and ethnic hatred.
The Czech daily Lidové Noviny released details on Monday which fill out the circumstances surrounding a Vietnamese man’s death after he was detained by Brno police. The new information released by the paper points to him being the victim of a savage attack after drawing on witness statements and the initial findings of the state prosecutor.
The Czech ultra right-wing Nationalist Party has held a demonstration to remember the start of the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by German troops 70 years ago. On March 15th, 1939 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler proclaimed the country a protectorate. Around twenty members of the Nationalist Party gathered in Prague on Sunday, carrying placards and Czech flags. The event was monitored by police but ended without incident.
A march by around 200 ultra right-wing extremists who protested in the west Bohemian town of Plzeň on Saturday has ended without serious incident. Police did detain two men, one for a misdemeanour, the other on suspicion of promoting movements aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. According to ČTK, the Czech news agency, the suspect sported an “88” tattoo – a coded reference to the Hitler salute. Neo-Nazis in the march carried posters against Zionism while shouting slogans against Israel. Between 200 to 300 people came out to show their opposition to the extremists. The demonstration was monitored by police, some on horseback, while a police helicopter surveyed the scene from overhead.
The Czech authorities recently launched a scheme to send home workers from non-EU states who lose their jobs. But members of the country’s sizable Vietnamese community say that measure is too heavy-handed. Vietnamese leaders told Interior Ministry officials this week they could support one another until the job situation improves again. However, the ministry has rejected these proposals. The head of the ministry’s asylum and migration department, Tomáš Haišman, explains why.
Vietnamese citizens have asked to be allowed to remain in the Czech
Republic if they lose their jobs. At a meeting with Interior Ministry
officials, leaders of the Vietnamese community said they were capable of
supporting one another in the event of being laid off, arguing that
possible deportation was too heavy-handed a measure on the part of the
Czech authorities. The Vietnamese leaders said their compatriots would
prefer to stay in the Czech Republic and do community service, for
The Czech government recently launched a scheme to give laid-off workers from non-EU states EUR 500 and a ticket home. So far around 550 people – most of them from Mongolia – have signed up for the programme, which is open to 2,000 foreigners in its first phase. Only 20 or 25 people from Vietnam have taken up the offer.
A Vietnamese citizen named Le Kim Thanh, who briefly went on hunger strike in protest at a deportation order, is to be expelled from the country in the next few weeks, a spokesperson for the Czech police said on Wednesday. The man lost his right to remain in the Czech Republic when he lost his job and his case has received a good deal of attention. While the human rights minister, Michael Kocáb, said Le Kim Thanh should be allowed to stay in the country, the minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, said he had broken Czech law and had to go. His lawyer is appealing the expulsion order.
The Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday rejected a petition by the Czech government to ban the far-right Workers’ Party. The court said the cabinet had not provided sufficient evidence that the small extremist group - which first made headlines last year when its supporters staged a march on a Romany ghetto - posed a real threat to democracy. The verdict was applauded by the party, but probably by few others. The Czech government will now have to bring more proof to support its position, or come up with different ways of dealing with right-wing
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