AI and ERRC call for protection of the Roma in Nový Bydžov from neo-Nazis
Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre have called on the Czech authorities to ensure protection for Roma people living in Nový Bydžov during an upcoming gathering of the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS). The gathering is planned for tomorrow, Saturday, 12 March 2011.
In February 2010, the Supreme Administrative Court dissolved the Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS), which was the predecessor organization to the DSSS. The court found that the program and activities of Workers' Party representatives were based on the systematic slander and vilification of certain groups and aimed at inciting negative feelings, fear and hatred toward them.
In November 2008, the Workers' Party organized a rally in the town of Litvínov. When the demonstration was over, the demonstrators reportedly did their best to march through the Janov housing estate there, which houses a predominantly Roma population. They were armed with stones, clubs and fireworks and evidently intended to attack the Roma community. The chair of the DSSS today is the same person who headed the Workers' Party then.
Extreme-right groups are calling for another Janov today on the internet. The extreme-right Autonomous Nationalists (Autonomní nacionalisté - AN) has announced their support for the demonstration in Nový Bydžov. The group has reportedly called on "pro-national forces" from Janov and said that the time has come once again to "make a show of force". Once again, the demonstration organizers reportedly plan to march through a section of town in which Roma people live.
Nový Bydžov drew the attention of the media and politicians after a 21-year-old woman was raped there in November 2010. The perpetrator of that crime was alleged to have been a Roma man. The mayor of the town responded to the crime by publishing a statement that said "we have reached the last straw as far as the citizens' hatred for Gypsies is concerned." In another declaration, the mayor welcomed the DSSS as “openly and truthfully naming the problem”. The party also offered assistance such as deploying its "monitoring teams" to the town.
Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre are alerting the Czech authorities to their responsibility to ensure the security and physical integrity of the Roma community. This obligation flows from international human rights norms. The authorities must also do everything they can to prevent racially motivated attacks, to punish those involved, and to investigate all such incidents.
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