Amnesty International and ERRC call on Czech Government to protect Romani people
Human rights organizations Amnesty International (AI) and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) have called on the Czech Republic to protect Romani people from terror and violence. The organizations published their joint declaration in response to the planned anti-Romani demonstrations that await the Czech Republic in the coming days. (See: http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/czech-republic-protect-roma-at-risk-of-violence-ahead-of-far-right-demonstration
Tomorrow, Saturday, 3 August, a protest will be held in the town of Vítkov, where little Natálka Kudriková suffered serious burn injuries in April 2009 as the result of an arson attack. Members of the ultra-right set the Romani family's house on fire.
“The government must ensure that these protests do not lead to violence against Roma communities, and that those at risk get the protection they need,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director for Amnesty International. For its part the ERRC has recorded nine anti-Romani demonstrations and marches in the Czech Republic since April of this year, some of which have taken place repeatedly in the same locations.
“The situation is extremely tense in the Czech Republic at the moment, with far right groups rapidly gaining in influence. Many Roma families and activists we talk to fear for their safety, in particular ahead of demonstrations like those planned tomorrow,” said Dezideriu Gergely, Executive Director of the ERRC.
Natálka Kudriková's mother recently told the ERRC she is concerned there will be more attacks. "We cannot understand how the government allows them to march in this town when everybody knows who they are," she said. "These marches will fuel more violence against us and we are afraid that more Roma families will be attacked."
There are currently between 150 000 and 300 000 Romani people in the Czech Republic. Attacks against this community have increased in recent years.
The ERRC reports that between January 2008 and December 2012, at least 48 attacks against members of this minority took place in the country. A few days ago the Czech Security Information Service (Bezpečnostní informační služba - BIS) reported that anti-Romani sentiment amongst a part of the general public is a greater problem than small groups of right-wing extremists are. In its quarterly report, BIS warned that ordinary citizens have participated in anti-Romani demonstrations recently in České Budějovice and Duchcov.
The Czech Government is currently reviewing Romani issues for another reason as well. Last Thursday the UN Human Rights Committee called on the Czech Republic to close the pig farm that was built during the 1970s on the site of a former concentration camp for Romani people in Lety by Písek.
Prague has one year to respond to the committee's recommendations. Czech PM Jiří Rusnok participated in a ceremony at Lety yesterday commemorating two anniversaries related to the WWII-era camp. It began operations on 1 August 1942 and was closed on 8 August 1943.
A total of 326 children, men and women are recorded as having died at the camp. As far as the closure of the pig farm on the site is concerned, Rusnok said he must first familiarize himself with the UN committee's recommendations in detail.
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