Human rights campaigners won an important moral victory on Monday when the government of Jan Fischer expressed regret over the forced sterilization of women, almost all of them members of the country’s Roma minority. No reliable figures exist for the numbers of women sterilized, but what’s alarming is that according to human rights groups, the practice continues in isolated cases to this day.
After the Czech Senate banned a planned appearance on its premises by the controversial far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders last week, the Czech Muslim organization Libertas Independent Agency on Monday surprised many by extending an invitation to him. The organization is offering to host a screening of Mr. Wilders anti-Islamic film Fitna and organize a debate on the subject.
The Czech government expressed its regret on Monday that Roma women were
sterilised in the past without their full consent. A spokesman said the
move was not an apology since the government could not apologise for the
individual mistakes of certain doctors. Minister for Human Rights and
Minorities, Michael Kocáb, said that safeguards had been drawn up to make
sure such a step could not happen in the future.
The number of Roma women who were sterilised in the Czech Republic after 1990 is not clear. Around 80 women complained to the Czech ombudsman Otakar Motejl. He found that women were not properly informed about the step they were taking and could not therefore be said to have given their full consent.
A homeless man in Tachov, near the western German border, who was sleeping in a paper rubbish container is dead after collectors inadvertently dumped him into the compactor. The refuse collectors only realised what was happening when they heard the man scream from inside the compactor and were unable to stop the machine in time. The victim was 25 years old.
Police detained 36 people following a demonstration by right-wing extremists on Tuesday. Around 300 people took part mid-day in the unofficial demonstration near Prague’s National Theatre including the chairman of the extreme right-wing Workers’ Party, Tomáš Vandas. Police moved on the demonstration which threatened to clash with events planned to mark the anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. Scuffles laetr broke out near the river at Výton after police blocked the extremists from re-entering Narodní třída.
The family of Natálka, a Roma child who suffered near fatal burns in the wake of a racially motivated attack in April, moved to a new home on Monday. After spending seven months in temporary housing in their hometown of Vítkov, her family is looking forward to more privacy in their new home, a few kilometers from their old home that had burned down after a Molotov cocktail attack. The three year old, who spent months recovering from the attack, is expected to be released from the hospital in the next two days.
Two soldiers from an elite army unit serving in Afghanistan who wore Nazi emblems on their helmets have been dismissed from the military, Czech Defense Minister Martin Barták announced after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. Neither will have the right to retirement or severance pay. Their commander, who allegedly tried to cover up the incident, has been suspended pending an investigation. Minister Barták said the soldiers behaviour was unacceptable and tarnished the reputation of Czech units serving abroad. On Monday, the minister dismissed a soldier who confessed that he had trained members of the neo-Nazi group White Justice in hand-to-hand combat.
Just three days ago Jan Čermák and Hynek Matonoha – members of the Czech elite rapid response force serving in Logar, Afghanistan – were honoured by the Czech defence minister and the country’s chief of the general staff for their performance during duty. Three days later, the two, along with the army itself, are embroiled in a major scandal. The Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday that the two officers from the elite unit had - unbelievably - worn Nazi emblems on their helmets during their tour of duty. What’s more, the daily says,
In further connection to the White Justice case, the daily Právo reported Friday that the son of Prime Minister Jan Fischer has been under police protection for the last five months on account of the family’s Jewish background and the extremist group’s treat to attack “highly-positioned Jews”. The paper reported that the family of interior minister Martin Pecina was also receiving police protection.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer will take the signed Lisbon treaty to Rome next Friday, whereby the ratification process by the Czech Republic will be completed, a government spokesman told the ctk news agency on Thursday. Prime Minister Fischer is due to pay a two-day visit to the Vatican and will use the opportunity to take the treaty to Rome in person, the spokesman said. The Czech Republic is the last country to complete ratification of the Lisbon treaty which is due to take effect on December 1.
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