This autumn, the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival will celebrate 10 years of showing gay and lesbian-themed films to the Czechs. The festival is held between October 23 and November 8 in Brno, Prague and several other cities around the country, under the motto “The Third World War of the Sexes”. In this edition of One on One, our guest is the festival’s director Aleš Rumpel who explains what the main focus of this year’s Mezipatra is.
Two Czech nationals were arrested in Havana, Cuba in June this year over “homosexual behaviour”, and are awaiting trial, Frekvence 1 radio reported on Wednesday. The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed the report, although did not comment on the cause of the arrest. A spokesman for the ministry said both Czechs had regularly been in touch with the Czech embassy in the Cuban capital.
Czech police have decided to target the funding of extreme right-wing parties in order to weaken them and hasten their destruction, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Saturday, citing a top ministry of interior source. The paper says recent evidence suggests that the parties are well funded. It gives the example of the recruitment of high profile lawyers to protect their interests. Police swooped on a series of extremist leaders in the summer, many of them organisers of concerts used as recruiting grounds. The paper points out that worries that one of the highest profile parties, the Workers’ Party could get more than 1.5 percent in elections to the lower house next year. That would give it the right to 7.0 million crowns in state funding. The government has tabled a proposal to ban the party.
An advertising campaign in which mostly Roma manual workers have been wearing t-shirts with the slogan “I should have learned better” has created controversy. The campaign launched in cooperation with a building company has been used on the streets of Prague to promote an educational website. The advertising company that came up with the idea says that it is based on the traditional warning that if you do not work hard in school you will end up with a shovel in your hands. But some heads of schools have said that the campaign is on the borderline of good taste and perhaps goes beyond it. Czech Minister for Minorities and Human Rights Michael Kocáb described the campaign as disgraceful.
The extremist Czech Workers’ Party has complained that it did not receive details of a government proposal to disband it because the letter was held up with the post office and they were not even told about it. The government launched a second attempt to ban the party after its first attempt failed because it failed to muster a convincing case. The Ministry of Interior has described this as a priority. The Workers’ Party originally had until November 15 to comment on the government’s plans but party leader Tomáš Vandas said on Thursday that he wanted this extended by around two weeks. He said the main reason was the thickness of the 80-page proposal.
Police in the West Bohemian town of Most have charged four members of the far-right Workers’ Party on suspicion of violent crimes. Three were arrested in a case in which officers pursuing noise complaints after a Neo-Nazi march in August were ambushed by a group of six young people. The fourth is charged with riotous conduct after attacking to a cameraman from a civic society who was filming a Workers’ Party event in November of last year. If convicted the attackers face up to five years imprisonment.
The Freedom Train commemorating the escape of thousands of East Germans to West Germany via Prague in the autumn of 1989, arrived in the Czech capital on Wednesday. September 30 marks 20 years since thousands of refugees, camping on the premises of West German embassy in Prague, were allowed to emigrate to the West. The Freedom Train will leave for Bavaria on Thursday retracing the historic journey, with a group of former East German refugees.
The government has filed a proposal for the banning of the extreme-right Workers’ Party with the Supreme Administrative Court. The court’s spokesman, Michal Lovritš, said it would deal with the proposal on September 30. The previous government made a proposal to the same end earlier this year, however it was dismissed by the court on the grounds that it was poorly prepared and did not include the necessary evidence. Both the police and the Czech intelligence agency BIS consider the party an extremist organisation of right-wing radicals.
Nine people have been charged in South Bohemia with violations of anti-fascism laws after police found video recordings in their possession in which they were using Nazi slogans. According to Czech Television the case is indirectly related to the attempted murder of a young man who was stabbed in the area last year after admonishing a group of extremists giving the Nazi salute. Police investigating the attack found the recordings on confiscated computers. If convicted the suspects face up to five years in prison.
After seven years of increases in the birth-rate, there was a fall in the number of children born in the Czech Republic in the first half of 2009. According to official figures released on Friday, 58,000 babies were born between the start of January and the end of June, 1,600 fewer than in the same period last year. The total population of the Czech Republic grew by over 20,000 to just under 10.5 million in the first half of 2009.
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