The Czech Republic has been marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which comes on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in occupied Poland. Numerous events have been taking place across the country and in Prague in particular. Dominik Jůn spoke with Zuzana Tlášková of the Jewish Museum in Prague to find out more.
The minister for minorities and human rights, Micahel Kocáb, has labelled as “completely unacceptable” a march on Saturday by right-wing extremists through Janov - a largely-Roma area in the town of Litvinov, in the north of the Czech Republic. Saturday’s march, organised by the right-wing Workers’ Party, was without incident, but in a statement Mr Kocab compared members’ activities to those of militant SA groups in the Nazis’ rise to power in 1930s Germany. About 30 members of the Workers Party on Saturday marched in so-called “patrols” in Janov, handing out leaflets to local non-Roma residents, asking whether they were satisfied with measures taken by the local town hall. Last year, the extremist party organised a march in the area that led to the worst street violence in the Czech Republic in eight years.
The Czech Roma organisation The Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust has welcomed a commitment by Michael Kocáb to push for the removal of a controversial pig farm at the site of a former concentration camp. The newly-named minister for minorities and human rights made the pledge on Friday. During World War II, more than 1,000 Roma were interned at the Lety u Písku concentration camp in southern Bohemia: 327 people died at the site, while more than 500 were transported to the Auschwitz death camp. Non-governmental organisations have been pushing for years for the removal of the pig farm, which was built in the 1970s, and for the introduction of a memorial at the site.
A demonstration by far-right supporters passed without any major incident in the town of Litvínov on Saturday. Around thirty members of the far-right Worker’s Party marched through Janov, a part of town that is home to a strong Romany minority. According to the Worker’s Party, the Town Hall has not been dealing with complaints from the local people about the situation in the neighbourhood. In November last year, Janov witnessed the worst street violence in the past eight years, with around 600 neo-Nazis clashing with the police.
Temperatures in the Czech Republic have risen above 0 for the first time in weeks, and while that’s good news for most of us, for the homeless slightly warmer weather could mean the difference between life and death. So far this winter, over 20 people – most of them homeless – have died as a consequence of freezing weather. Although there is no official data available, the numbers are definitely higher than in the last couple of years. Are the authorities doing enough to deal with the problem?
Four homeless men died when two wooden huts by road works on a motorway near Ostrava went on fire on Friday. Two bodies were found in one hut, which was gutted completely, with the remains of two other people found in the second, which was only partially burned down, a spokesperson for the Ostrava fire service said. The cause of the fires is being investigated and police are attempting to establish the identities of the victims of the tragedy.
In just a few days, it will be easier for foreigners to come to work in the Czech Republic – or at least for some of them. Czech authorities have issued a list of 12 countries whose citizens will be eligible for the Czech green card which combines work and residence permits. Most Czech employers welcome the new provision as they hope it will make the Czech labour market more accessible. But the choice of the countries included on the Green card list has raised eyebrows.
Around 150 extremists and other people opposed to conditions in a district of Litvínov largely populated by Romanies held an unauthorised march on Saturday. The north Bohemian town saw running battles between hundreds of neo-Nazis and the police last month. Meanwhile, a group of anarchists held a demonstration in Prague against racism.
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