Monday is International Women’s Day, and in 2010 that means one hundred years since the holiday was introduced. The idea to highlight the struggle for women’s rights around the world picked up a different tone in communist countries like Czechoslovakia though, and was largely discarded after 1989. Now some NGOs in the Czech Republic want to use the 100th anniversary to reawaken the spirit of activism that Women’s Day originally stood for.
Prime Minister Jan Fisher has demanded an apology from transport unions leader Jaromír Dušek over an interview in which he said that Czech Railways was run by a clique of homosexuals. In an interview for Saturday’s Lidové Noviny, Dušek alleged that homosexuals had a tight grip on decision-making and had people both in the cabinet and the office of the government. The interview provoked an angry reaction from Prime Minister Jan Fischer who described Mr. Dušek’s views as primitive and small-minded. He accused the trade union leader of homophobia and intolerance and said that if he failed to apologize he would not be considered a future partner for negotiation.
The Czech government is distributing a new handbook to primary and secondary school teachers called “Homophobia in Schools” – aimed at raising awareness of homosexuality and the problem of bullying based on sexual orientation. The government council behind the handbook says it wants teachers to be better able to recognise homophobia – and to do something about it.
Pupils at primary and secondary schools around the country will receive a new comic book soon; it’s called My World and it’s all about a Chechen refugee struggling to adjust to his new life in the Czech Republic, including dealing with prejudice and hostility. Magda Faltová, director of the Prague-based NGO the Association for Integration and Migration which produced the comic book, told us more.
Leaders of the banned Workers’ Party said on Saturday that they will fight upcoming general elections under the banner Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS). Leader Tomáš Vanas said he felt support following Wednesday’s decision by the Supreme Administrative Court to dissolve the Workers’ Party and said that could be vented in the elections. It was the first time a court has banned a party on political not financial grounds since the creation of the Czech Republic in 1993. The court cited the party’s racist, xenophobic and anti-gay stances and Nazi links for its decision. The extremist party currently has only a handful of local council seats.
The Brno police has defended the use of force in dispersing a crowd of far-right protesters outside the Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday. The police took action against several dozen supporters of the far-right Workers’ Party who turned up to protest against the court’s decision to ban the party on the grounds that it spreads xenophobia and racial hatred. A police spokesman said the protesters had repeatedly ignored orders to disperse and in view of the fact that they were violating the law the police had no option but to use force. He stressed that no one had been injured in the operation and there had been no damage of property. The police action was criticized by the Human Rights League on the grounds that the party’s supporters were entitled to show their discontent with the court’s decision.
In a breakthrough ruling on Wednesday, the Czech Supreme Administrative
Court banned the far-right Workers Party. The court ruled that the
Workers’ Party spreads xenophobic and chauvinist views and had racist
undertones in its materials. The party’s programme also exploited
homophobia and fears of foreigners and immigrants, the court said. While
Czech politicians have welcomed Wednesday’s ruling, Worker’s Party
Tomáš Vandas said the group would appeal the ruling and run in May’s
Wednesday’s ruling is the result of a second attempt by the government to ban the party, which it maintains is a dangerous offshoot of the neo-Nazi movement. An initial attempt at the start of 2009 was dismissed by the court for lack of evidence.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Administrative Court in Brno delivered the first-ever verdict outlawing a political party in the Czech Republic. It ruled in favour of the government’s proposal to ban the far-right Workers Party on the grounds that it spreads xenophobia and racial hatred. Sarah Borufka has the details.
The Czech police temporarily reinstated border controls on the frontier
with Germany on Saturday in relation to a planned neo-Nazi march in
Dresden. The police checked vehicles at ten Czech-German border crossings
as well as passengers on Germany-bound international trains. Several dozen
police and customs officers took part in the operation, a police
Meanwhile, thousands of anti neo-Nazi protesters, including the Czech minister for human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb, prevented the extremists from marching through the city of Dresden on Saturday. Around 4,000 right-wing extremists gathered in the city to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Allied bombing of Dresden during which an estimated 25,000 people died, most of them civilians.
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Prague’s historical Koh-i-noor factory to be converted into residential area
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