Bulgaria: Alleged Romani Attacks on Rowers Sparks Anti-Roma Protest
The Bulgarian News Agency reports that an anti-Roma protest happened in Assenovgrad, southern Bulgaria, last week. Roughly 1 500 non-Romani people are said to have joined the protest on the evening of Wednesday, 28 June.
The protest was convened in response to clashes between local Romani residents and non-Romani youth involved with a rowing club in the vicinity. The protesters gathered outside of the town hall calling “for removal of Roma people from the town”, according to the Bulgarian News Agency.
Several eyewitness accounts allege that a number of Romani men started a quarrel with several young rowers on Monday, 26 June as the rowers were practicing at the Forty Springs Lake near Assenovgrad. The altercation is said to have escalated and moved towards the center of town.
Allegedly the Romani men attacked the rowers, their parents, and the coaches of the club. Several rowers allegedly sustained unspecified injuries.
Eight suspected assailants have been detained. Monday’s clash fueled the protest against Roma people on Wednesday.
Protestors urged authorities to address the alleged problem and demanded the removal of the Roma people from the neighborhood. According to the Bulgarian News Agency, “The protestors want to talk to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and threaten to protest every night until their demands are met.”
In the meantime, police presence in the town has increased. The authorities have been tasked with preventing others from advancing on the Roma neighborhood to prevent future clashes.
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