The government’s agency for social inclusion on Wednesday presented the Rusnok cabinet with a grim report on the situation of the Romany minority, in which it claims that the problems in housing have deteriorated in an alarming way and little progress has been made in other areas. Coincidentally, on the same day, the Senate rejected a proposal by the EC on how to address these issues successfully. I asked the head of the government’s agency for social inclusion Martin Šimácek to outline the main areas of concern.
Over the next several weeks homeless people in the Czech Republic will announce the weather in a number of broadcasts on public broadcaster Czech TV, news website idnes reports. The project is a continuation of Days of Hope which already took place in other European countires including Swizterland and Germany. Besides presenting the weather, people living on the street will also talk, in other programmes, about their lives. The aim of the project, according to a spokewoman, is to break stereotypes about the homeless and those marginlaised in society.
The Interior Ministry has confirmed it aims to hire an additional 1,000 police to its roughly 39,000-strong force next year. According to the ministry, many would serve in districts in the country hit by high unemployment, growing crime and extremism and ethnic unrest. Officers are to receive special training to operate in sometimes difficult conditions, gaining knowledge of the local environment. In addition, the government aims to boost the number of crime-prevention assistants operating in areas, a programme which has already seen a good measure
The number of homeless people in the Czech Republic is rising, according to the Czech Salvation Army. The organization says that according to its estimates there are now approximately 30,000 homeless people in the country and another 70 thousand people are at threat of losing their homes. The main reasons why people end up in the street are growing indebtedness, loss of employment, high rents and divorces or break-ups. The plight of such people is made worse by the fact that the Czech Republic does not as yet have social housing. The government recently approved the country’s first national strategy against homelessness.
Around 150 right-wing extremists have gathered in Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Sunday, the 24th anniversary of the fall of communism. Supporters of the extremist Workers’ Party of Social Justice criticized the post-communist regime, the EU as well as alleged limits to the freedom of speech. Several hundred metres away, some 500 people came together to protest against right-wing extremism, and what they believe is an abuse of the anniversary. The police are keeping both group separate, the news agency ČTK reported.
A number of right-wing extremist groups are planning on staging demonstrations in the center of Prague on Sunday during celebrations of a state holiday marking the Day of Freedom and Democracy. The Worker’ Youth group is planning on marching from Wenceslas Square through the historical center of the city. Traditionally on November 17th, the Czech Republic commemorates Nazi repressions of Czechoslovak university students in 1939 and the student demonstrations in 1989, which eventually led to the fall of the Communist regime.
In a recent edition of Czech Books, we spoke to the Romany writer, Irena Eliášová. She mentioned that her novel, November, had been published earlier this year by an internet publisher. This inspired David Vaughan to find out more about Romany writing in the digital age, and he discovered that Czech Roma have embraced the social media in a big way.
In its report for 2012, released on Thursday, the Czech intelligence service BIS warns that corruption remains a serious problem in the country, with increasingly tighter links between businesses and public administration. The service says that the public’s growing frustration with the present state of affairs is leading to a rise in extremism that presents a threat to democracy in the country.
The Interior Ministry wants to station specially trained police officers in the country’s slums, according to a report presented to the government on Friday. The move comes in the wake of rising petty crime in poverty-ridden areas of the country and growing tension between its inhabitants and the majority population. There are presently between 300 and 400 slums in the Czech Republic with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants, the greater part of them Romanies. It is not clear how many specialists would be needed but the ministry envisaged training around 50 a year.
The Czech Republic is often criticized for failing to address the problems of its Romany minority and give the Roma equal access to education, work and housing. While the authorities frequently point out that addressing these problems is a long an uphill task, the mayor of Obrnice, a small town in north Bohemia, has just proved that it can be done. She has been awarded the Council of Europe’s DOSTA! prize for innovative work in combating anti-Romany sentiments and assisting Romany integration.
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Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events