Romany representatives from around the Czech Republic held a national conference in Brno on Friday. They agreed on the establishment of an organization which would represent the minority in talks with government officials, parliament deputies and local authorities. The grouping is expected to form the basis of a future party. Calls for a Romany party have strengthened in the wake of growing racial tension in the north where a high unemployment rate and rising crime have triggered a wave of anti-Romany sentiment. Some municipalities have moreover created a system of residential and social policies that essentially displace Romanies to the community’s outskirts. According to available statistics there are around 400 slums in the Czech Republic with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants, predominantly from the Roma minority.
The government on Wednesday debated a report on the plight of the
country’s Romany minority which for the most part lives in social
exclusion. According to available statistics there are around 400 slums in
the Czech Republic with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants, predominantly from
the Roma minority. Prime Minister Nečas told reporters that the key to
breaking the vicious circle of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion
was to give Romany children equal opportunities in education and help them
overcome cultural barriers.
The government report cites an alarming lack of progress in this sphere noting that Romany children were almost automatically placed in special schools for disadvantaged children which made it highly unlikely they would find a job and live a better life than their parents. With increasing racial tension in Roma populated areas some municipalities have moreover created a system of residential and social policies that essentially displace troublesome groups of people to the community’s outskirts.
Communist Senator Jaroslav Doubrava has come under criticism for quoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his speech in the Senate on Friday. In a debate about raising the VAT on books and other printed materials, Mr Doubrava mentioned the Protocols and said they offered an interesting view on the press. Other senators, mainly from the Civic Democrat party, criticized Mr Doubrava, and suggested the upper house passes a resolution distancing itself from his words. However, the communist senator later apologized for having referred to the anti-Semitic pamphlet.
Hundreds of people gathered in Ústí nad Labem, in the north of the country, on Saturday for an anti-Romany rally. The participants, protesting against “parasitism of the inadaptables”, marched through the city, shouting nationalist and racist slogans; the crowd was headed by members of the extremist Workers’ Party of Social Justice, the news website idnes.cz reported. Some 500 police officers oversaw the event, the latest in a series of anti-Romany rallies held in north Bohemia towns in recent months amidst rising ethnic tensions between Romanies and ethnic Czechs.
The government’s report on the Roma minority for 2010 states that a considerable part of the population lives in a condition of social exclusion. The cabinet is to examine the report next Wednesday. The document cites a serious systemic and social problem with sweeping political impacts and an alarming lack of progress in integrating Roma children from excluded environments. It also notes that a number of municipalities have created a system of residential and social policies that essentially displace troublesome groups of people to the community’s outskirts. Problems with unemployment and education it says are then rampant in such areas. Recent statistics show there are around 400 slums in the Czech Republic with an estimated number of 80,000 inhabitants, predominantly from the Roma minority.
A demonstration of far-right extremists in the city of Ústí nad Labem on Saturday will be minded by 500 police officers. Around 1,000 people have planned attendance via Facebook. The location poses a threat of clashes with anarchist groups, which have a strong base in the Ústí nad Labem. Officers will be checking cars entering the city. A parallel protest against rising crime is to take place in the town of Varnsdorf where the locals have been calling for the resignation of the entire town council. Protests and marches reflecting growing racial tensions have been held every weekend in the region with police reinforcements costing taxpayers millions of crowns. The previous eight weekends have seen demonstrations of 300 to 700 people.
Canada will postpone the cancellation of visa requirements for Czechs, possibly due to racial tensions in Northern Bohemia. Canada initiated visa requirements for Czechs in 2009 due to a large influx of Roma seeking asylum there on grounds of racial discrimination in the Czech Republic. A new asylum system was supposed to be launched in late 2011 and would allow Czechs to travel to the country without a visa. However, according to the news website Aktualne.cz, than plan has been delayed until next summer. The Canadian embassy in Prague told the website that it is monitoring the situation in Northern Bohemia, where racial tension has caused violence and demonstrations in recent months.
Police are gearing up for more anti-Romany protests in the north of the country over the weekend. Extremists have relocated their main protest gathering to the town of Usti nad Labem and there are fears of potential clashes with anarchists who have a strong base in the city. A police spokeswoman said riot police would be out in force, with officers checking cars entering the city. A parallel protest against rising crime is to take place in the town of Varnsdorf where the locals have been calling for the resignation of the entire town council. Protests and marches reflecting growing racial tensions have been held every weekend in the region with police reinforcements costing taxpayers millions of crowns.
Reports surfaced on Tuesday that a number of representatives of the Czech Roma community are considering founding a new party focussing on Roma issues, including how to tackle long-standing social problems and ethnic tension between communities. Those have grown especially in North Bohemia in recent weeks. While some, like notable sociologist Ivan Gabal have praised the project so far – he told a national Czech newspaper such a party could “change the atmosphere in Czech politics and improve the social climate”, many others are sceptical, saying
The Czech Republic recently saw an outbreak of tensions between the country’s Romany minority and parts of the majority population. People in the isolated northern Bohemian region of Šluknov began holding anti-Romany rallies to protest a growing crime rate in the region; the government reacted by sending in the police but also by adopting a plan to tackle the issue of Romany exclusion and impoverishment. To discuss these and other issues, Radio Prague spoke to Gwendolyn Albert who for the past 15 years has been working with the Romany advocacy group,
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