Recent Romnews postings: Czech Republic


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Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 09:08:01 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Recent Romnews postings: Czech Republic

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Recent Romnews postings: Czech Republic


Two Romanies arrested for attacking Republican leader
 
Nory Bor / CZECH REP (RNN Correspodent) May the 12th 1998
 
Two Romanies were charged today with violence and breach of the peace
for taking part in a verbal and bodily attack on Miroslav Sladek, the
chairman of the extreme right-wing Republicans, and his bodyguards
during an Republican rally on Saturday, police spokeswoman Ivana
Balakova told CVK today.

The two Romanies, aged 36 and 40, are being held by police pending a
decision on custody. If convicted, they face several years in prison.
"The police has received amateur video footage via Nova television
which may help clarify the case or indict further participants in the
incedent," Balakova said.

Local Romanies say the incident was provoked by Sladek's racist
comments and his insults against President Havel and his wife. The
ensuing skirmish was only stopped by a warning shoot by the municipal
police. Sladek and three Republicans suffered minor bodily harm. Local
Romanies have protested against the arrest.
 
Translation of the open Lether from Ladislav Spacek
 
On one hand the President of the Czech Republic does not approve of
punching politicians at pre-election assemblies, on the other hand, he
understands the Romanies' actions, the values their position, through
which they showed that they are not indifferent to the values of this
country, and values the fact that, unlike others present, they even
the only ones to defend the president and his wife from vulgar
attacks.
----------------------

Wall to separate Roma from "whites" in Usti nad Labem

Usti nad Labem / CZECH REP. (RNN Correspondent) May the 14th 1998

A wall about four metres high will be erected in Matiani Street in
Usti nad Labem to separate Roma from "white" inhabitants, Mayor
Ladislav Hruska (ODS) promised owners of family houses on the street
today. They have turned to Hruska twice for assistance claiming that
the Roma who live in two community apartment houses had caused
"appalling" sanitary conditions in the area.
 
Hruska said the city would pay for the wall which is to cost about
350.000 crowns
(1 Dollar = 32,316 crowns). Besides, the Roma threaten the families'
security, the representatives of the family houses owners said. They
said that Roma children and adults who do not have driver's license
often drive cars along Mationi Street.

The district office has announced it will employ a new caretaker in
the community houses who has been recommended by the Roma organisation
SoRo (Coexistence -Equality). The town hall also plans to change rules
to make the resettlement of those who most flagrantly violate  the
order and to build a playground for Roma
children from the Mationi Street area. 

The latest incident in the area took place on april 12 when Roma
allegedly attacked the crew of a passenger car. The crew were aided by
the city police who were also attacked with seven policemen receiving
injuries. The investigator has accused four Roma of breach of the
peace and racially-motivated violence against an individual and a
group of people. One of the accused has been taken into custody.

Teh Czech Republic has recently witnessed a growing number af
racially-motivated skinhead attacks against Roma some of which ended
in death and also Roma attacks against the majority population. The
government have been criticised for being sluggish in looking for ways
of integrating the Roma of whom about 600.000 live in the country ot
ten million.
-----------------------

Czech far-right targets Roma, NATO in campaign

Prague / CZECH REP. (RNN Agency) May the 18th 1998

Czech far-right Republicans have fired the opening shots in the
campaign for June's election with controversial posters proclaiming
the party's opposition to NATO and to programmes favouring Roma. Other
posters declare opposition to the return of Sudeten Germans, who were
expelled from their homes in Czech territory after World War Two.

All other parliamentary parties, saying they were strapped for cash,
agreed in February they would not use billboards in the campaign for
the June 19-20 vote which is being held two years early after the
collapse in November of former premier Vaclav Klaus's centre-right
coalition.

Some analysts said the Republicans, who won eight percent of the vote
and took 18 seats in the 200-seat lower house in the 1996 election,
may be setting the agenda and could pick up extra votes with their
posters which are plastered nationwide.

"It could have such an impact but... this is highly dependent on the
action of the other parties. They have to take up the challenge and
address some of the issues raised on the billboards," said Jan Hartl,
head of the STEM polling agency.

The Republicans are no strangers to controversy. Party leader Miroslav
Sladek, whose face is on every poster, was acquitted on charges of
spreading racial hatred in January after spending 17 days in custody
on remand. Sladek was widely reported to have shouted that it was a
"pity we killed only a few Germans during the war" at a demonstration
in January 1997 as German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Klaus were
signing a declaration on Czech-German relations.

A Prague district court judge ruled that the statements made by Sladek
did not violate Czech laws when considered in the full context of his
speech. The Republicans' slogans, which include "Republicans reject
NATO" and "Republicans against advantages for Roma" touch on sensitive
issues.

The Czech parliament last week gave its final backing to the country
joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, although polls show
only 50 percent support for membership.

And the standing of the 600,000 gypsy population hit the headlines
last year when hundreds flocked to Britain and Canada to seek
political asylum, saying they faced persecution. Asylum has been
granted in only a few cases.

Both President Vaclav Havel and the government have called on Czechs
to improve relations with Roma, among whom unemployment is commonly 60
percent, compared with a national average of ten percent. The
government has discussed plans to set aside public sector positions
for Roma, especially in the police force. However, political analyst
and presidential aide Jiri Pehe said there was no prospect of the
Republicans gaining more than 10 percent of the vote in June and that
there was no chance of a surge in support for the far-right.

"This is not a party which has a comprehensive programme," Pehe said.
"It is a political show, a political circus." He said that while the
Republicans were strong in certain areas, such as the northern mining
and industrial regions close to the German border, their support was
patchy. "The Republican leadership consists of people who do not
appeal to the majority of the population here," Pehe said.
-----------------
 
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