Among the highlights of this year’s One World festival of human rights documentaries is God Loves Uganda, a gripping film revealing how right-wing Christians – including LGBT opponent Scott Lively – campaigned successfully for anti-gay legislation in the African state. Ian Willoughby spoke to the Oscar-winning director of God Loves Uganda, Roger Ross Williams, and asked him why the Kansas-based International Church of House of Prayer had targeted Uganda in particular.
Demonstrations against the Russian intervention in Crimea were held in four Czech cities over the weekend. The protests, held under the motto "For Your and Our Freedom", were staged in Prague, Brno, Plzen and Karlovy Vary, and were attended by Ukrainians and Russians living in the Czech Republic as well as Czechs concerned about the recent developments in Crimea. Among those who joined the protest in Prague was the former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg who said he felt the need to show solidarity with Ukraine in this this difficult time. He recalled that the Czechs experienced twice what the Ukrainians are experiencing today, making a reference to the German occupation in 1939 and the Soviet-led invasion in 1968.
The condition of a number of Ukrainian nationals, injured in recent
anti-government demonstrations in Kiev, has improved somewhat, according to
a spokesman. In all, 27 patients are being treated in Czech hospitals. Some
of the demonstrators – who came out against now deposed president Viktor
Yanukovich – had suffered broken shins, or facial injuries such as a
cracked eye socket.
Back in Ukraine, tensions are continuing to rise over the peninsula of Crimea and involvement by Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday asked his country’s upper house to approve the use of troops in Ukraine, allegedly to protect the lives of Russian citizens there. A day earlier, US President Barack Obama warned Russia not to interfere militarily in Ukraine.
Continuing discrimination and violence against Roma, domestic violence, failure to deal with cases of human trafficking and corruption are highlighted as black marks against the Czech Republic in the US state department’s annual survey of human rights in the world. Societal discrimination and violence against Roma was a problem last year with human rights organisations attacking the government’s failure to deal with it, the report said. Exploitation of illegal and migrant workers and discrimination against labour unions were also highlighted in the report. Attempts to stamp out abuses in the police and other forces were taken but areas of immunity persisted, it added.
The eyes of the world are on Ukraine where a new political leadership is forming in the aftermath of the bloody revolution that ousted former president Viktor Yanukovich from power. Czech MEP Libor Roucek is part of a European Parliament delegation currently negotiating with the key political players in Kiev. I spoke to Mr. Rouček over the phone on Monday and first enquired about the situation in the city.
Hundreds of Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic held a mass for the victims of the recent killings in their country at the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Sunday. The crowd carried signs reading Stop Yanukovych and heard speeches condemning the actions of his now ousted government. Also on Sunday a concert in support of Ukraine was held on the Prague’s Náměstí Republiky; the event was free but attendees could send financial support by SMS to the NGO People in Need, which is organising aid for the strife-torn state.
Charles University has offered roughly 20 students from Ukraine the chance to complete their studies in Prague, the institution said on Friday. The offer only applies to students who face direct persecution in their country and who could receive the university’s Václav Havel Fellowship, which is for students affected by persecution in totalitarian and authoritative countries. Ukrainian students could start attending courses in Prague immediately, the university said. A similar offer came on Thursday from Palacký University in Olomouc.
The Czech government welcomes the deal reached on Friday between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the country’s opposition leaders, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. After days of violent clashes which left more than 70 people dead, the deal paves the ways for forming a new government and an early general election. Mr Sobotka told reporters on Friday that in case of need, the Czech Republic was ready to accept hundreds of refugees from Ukraine and help provide medical care for those injured during the conflict. However, Czech authorities have not registered any increase in the number of people seeking asylum in the country.
Events in Ukraine have repercussions across the wider region; neighbouring countries, like Slovakia, are already preparing for the potential arrival of refugees, and Poland has been heavily involved in the diplomatic effort. The Czech Republic is slightly further removed from the crisis, but the tremours can be felt here too - the country has a large Ukrainian population, many of them migrant workers, and on Thursday evening hundreds of Ukrainians demonstrated on Wenceslas Square. Some Czech organisations - like the NGO People in Need - are getting
Police in the town of Liberec are bracing for possible problems in connection with an ultra-right concert which is to take place at the Rock Pub club in the city centre. The concert by the nationalist group Sons of Bohemia is expected to attract extreme right supporters from around the country. Other clubs in town are closing their doors in protest of the event.
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
Czech teenager builds second-largest ever Millennium Falcon LEGO model
Press: Era of 100-crown lunch special is over, as food prices rocket
Misha Glenny: Organised crime is an important part of Czech economy – and corruption is its twin sibling