This weekend, Prague’s Kampa Island turned into a melting pot of cultures from all over the world, hosting a festival called RefuFest. Now in its fifth year, the festival supports the integration of foreigners, mainly refugees, into Czech society. It offered visitors a rich programme, including music, theatre, film screenings, debates and workshops.
The Czech government is set to discuss a new approach to integrating economically weak groups into mainstream society on Monday. The main focus will be education opportunities for children living in ghettos and problematic family situations. The head of the caretaker government, Prime Minister Jan Fischer, will present a strategy to fight social exclusion which aims at lowering unemployment within such groups. One possible measure could be introducing a mandatory pre-school year for children from socially excluded families, who often are of Roma origin. This could help lower the high percentage of such children being sent to schools with a more practical curriculum because they lack basic social and other skills by the time they enter elementary school.
Last month Prague hosted Bookworld, one of Europe’s major international book fairs. Writers from around the world, whose work covers a Babel of different languages, converged on the Czech capital. As part of the event, six of the writers got together to talk about how literature can play a role in helping to build understanding between cultures. A lively discussion emerged, chaired by Radio Prague’s David Vaughan.
Hundreds of people gathered at a mass grave in the Central Bohemian
village of Lidice on Saturday to commemorate the victims of a massacre
took place in 1942. In a speech, the head of the Senate, Přemysl Sobotka,
warned that neo-Nazism was a growing threat to Czech society. He added
it was time to learn from the past. The commemoration ceremony continued
front of the village’s museum with a performance by Czech singer Lucie
Bílá. Some six-hundred children from child choirs across the country
concerts as well.
Following the assassination of the German governor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, Nazis razed the village to the ground on June 10, 1942, and executed 340 of Lidice’s 503 inhabitants.
The number of racially motivated crimes recorded in the Czech Republic has fallen in recent years, according to a report released by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights. However, the report found that around one third of the country’s Romany minority say they have been the victim of attack. Czech NGO In Iustitia pointed out that the new report does not cover 2009, when there was a rise in the number of recorded crimes with a racial subtext. In the most high profile case, four neo-Nazis are accused of racially motivated attempted murder after allegedly firebombing a Romany family’s home in north Moravia in April 2009; the attack left a small child fighting for her life after suffering burns on 80 percent of her body.
The Pavel Koutecký prize for documentary film is awarded to “tireless observers of the world with the ability to convey their feelings and insights through film.” This year, the work chosen as best able to meet those criteria was “Country of Dreams”, by writer and director Martin Ryšavý. The film takes a hard look at the lives and tribulations of the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic.
The number of Czech soldiers with connections to far right groups fell in 2009, according to an annual report issued by the country’s military intelligence service. It said it was monitoring a few dozen members of the country’s military it suspected of links to such organisations. Last year two Czech soldiers in Afghanistan were caught wearing Nazi symbols on their helmets. Another soldier was found to have helped establish a racist group called White Justice. The new report said more potential extremists were being weeded out at the recruitment stage, while greater vigilance on the part of army authorities was leading to soldiers with far-right beliefs travelling long distances from their bases to attend neo-Nazi rock concerts and other such gatherings during their free time.
The trial of four men accused of launching a racially motivated fire bomb attack on a Roma family heard on Thursday how the youngest victim of the attack suffered horrific injuries. Police described how burning petrol could reach temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Celsius. A doctor afterwards testified that the not yet two-year-old Natálka suffered second and third degree burns on almost 77 percent of her body and almost died several times. She now has to live with life long scars and injuries, the expert added. The attack took place in the eastern town of Vítkov in Apríl 2009.
An expert confirmed on Wednesday that items confiscated during a search in the houses of four men on trial for attempted murder contain Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols. He said that the items propagated racial hatred and xenophobia, and that one of the defendants had in his possession a magazine that called for ethnic cleansing and compared Romanies to animals. The four defendants face charges of racially motivated attempted murder after a petrol bomb attack in the town of Vítkov last April that left three members of a Romany family injured. The most seriously hurt was a two-year-old girl, who suffered burns on 80 percent of her body and was at one point close to death.
Four far-right extremists accused of a firebomb attack on a Romany family’s home are not insane and are capable of understanding the danger of their actions, a court appointed psychiatrist said during their trial on Tuesday. He said none of them displayed signs of being psychopaths or pyromaniacs. The four face charges of racially motivated attempted murder after a petrol bomb attack in the town of Vítkov last April that left three members of a Romany family injured. The most seriously hurt was Natálie Siváková, who suffered burns on 80 percent of her body and was at one point close to death.
Over 1,000 skeletons discovered during renovation of Kutná Hora “bone church”
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Why are Russian and Chinese spying activities in Czech Republic so intense and how exactly do they do it?
Prague’s historical Koh-i-noor factory to be converted into residential area
The history of the “German Czechs”