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Commentary: Czech politician takes photo with extremists who have records of racist violence

31.8.2017 9:52
Governor of the Zlín Region in the Czech Republic, Jiří Čunek (center), posing in 2017 together with extremists who have neo-Nazi pasts. (PHOTO:  The Facebook page of the
Governor of the Zlín Region in the Czech Republic, Jiří Čunek (center), posing in 2017 together with extremists who have neo-Nazi pasts. (PHOTO: The Facebook page of the "Decent People" - "Slušní lidé" group).

There is a great deal that could be written about the long career of Czech politician Jiří Čunek. Some of his fellow Christian Democratic Party members (KDU-ČSL) look up to him, while others would be glad to kick him out if they only could.

Now Čunek, in addition to his reputation as a "Roma-evicter", has apparently also become a so-called "decent person". That is the actual name of a group of people based in Brno who spend their time hating others.

For that reason alone Čunek has to be involved with them. Today he is serving as the Governor of the Zlín Region, and extremists of all stripes are able to exploit him for their own propaganda.

Now the movement that is literally calling itself "Decent People" ("Slušní lidé) has published to its Facebook page a photo of the boxer Zdeněk Pernica (the boss of the group) together with Čunek. The accompanying text alleges that "What Jiří Čunek has in common with us, besides faith and a similar world view, is the conviction that our lifestyle and our values must be preserved..."

Čunek is maintaining a persistent silence about this association. He basically does not have much to say about it, because what the "Decent People" have posted is absolutely the truth:  The Governor is cut from the same cloth that they are.

"Decent People" and the Czech Interior Ministry

The "Decent People" do not yet have such a long history, but despite that they have already been mentioned in the report on extremism for the second quarter of 2017 by the otherwise quietly sleeping Czech Interior Ministry. They recently got together with the National Democracy (ND) party and the "Rationals" (Rozumní) party led by Petr Hannig for the current election campaign.

ND is an openly antisemitic, racist, xenophobic party. Its demonstration featuring a gallows intended for "traitors to the nation" (understood to be people who dare have a different opinion than they do) is today sadly infamous worldwide.

Hannig is a former communist-era pop singer, so of course he must be a "decent person" (à la politician Andrej Babiš). The extremism report describes the group's activities as follows:  "The Brno-based political entity Decent People deserves more attention as part of this coalition. That group has profiled itself in opposition to the Brno-based movement called Live Brno (Žít Brno). The substrata of the Decent People's personnel is comprised inter alia of persons with a hooligan or neo-Nazi past. They drew media attention in May by covering up the pink tank on Komenského náměstí in Brno with a tarp with the name of their group on it. The artifact had been displayed as part of an event called Pilgrimage of Reconciliation (commemorating those who died during the postwar violence against ethnic German civilians), which Decent People characterized as 'treasonous'."

Those decent "Decent People"

According to the Brno edition of the news server iDNES.cz, the vice-chairs of the "Decent People" movement are Ivo Crhák, a former striker for the Kometa football team, and Viktor Hell, a bodybuilder and personal trainer. Pernica owns the Gauny Security private security agency together with Crhák, which supplies bouncers to various bars in Brno.

Crhák, who has an official address listed in the commercial registry, had his share in the firm ordered sealed three weeks ago by the bailiff because he is behind on his health insurance contributions. Brno City Hall has actually had to officially refute several rumors begun by the "Decent People" group - for example, that the city was allegedly planning the mass accommodation of immigrants at the fairgrounds.

The group's online posts are frequently shared by other propaganda websites, from the tabloid Parlamentní listy to the hardline, pro-Russia skrytapravda.cz ("Hidden Truth"). The group also makes no secret of its connections with some members of the Brno cells of the ANO party, the Christian Democrats, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM).

At the beginning of May the group participated with the Brno-based Communists and the motorcycle club called Night Wolves (Noční vlci), who are pro-Putin, in honoring the fallen Soviet soldiers from WWII at the Central Cemetery there, posing while wearing the ribbon of St George. That military symbol, besides commemorating the heroism of Soviet soldiers, is also used as a symbol of the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Pernica, who ran as a candidate last year for the Republican Party of Miroslav Sládek, is also known in Brno as a member of the football gang calling itself the "Johny Kentus Gang" (JKG). That group is full of right-wing extremists and rioters.

It is Pernica and other members of that gang who went on to create the core of the "Decent People" movement, which claims to be especially involved in combating the alleged "Islamicization" of Brno, immigrants in general, and those they consider "optimists, collaborators, traitors and left-wingers". Some members of the "Decent People" have served prison sentences for promoting Nazism.

The antifascist website Antifa.cz describes JKG as follows:   "At the turn of the millenium a group of football hooligans using the acronym JKG - Johny Kentus Gang - began running amok in Brno. Among them is Zdeněk Pernica, who has earned the nickname 'Gauny' (Racketeer). This band of dozens of racist thugs combed the streets of Brno night after night looking to brawl. Countless people have ended up in the hospital with broken bones as a result of their conflicts, includine one case of a gouged-out eye. Their fights were too numerous to count and the victims were frequently randomly chosen. The anti-extremist division of the police ultimately assessed JKG at the end of 2002 as the Czech Republic's most militant hooligan gang."

That decent Čunek

Let's recall that it was Čunek who, in his role as mayor, engineered the housing of Romani tenants in a dilapidated apartment building in the center of the town of Vsetín immediately adjacent to the local hospital, and when the doctors working there complained of noise, he engineered the forced eviction of the Romani tenants, sending some of them to live on the outskirts of town in temporary "container" units and the rest into a completely different administrative region. He never asked the Romani people whose lives he so disrupted their opinions about anything - he just took action.

Some of those Romani people are still alleging to this day that they were forcibly deported from Vsetín. They criticize the fact that they were forced by employees of the local authority to sign papers they never had the opportunity to read, contracts that obligated them to purchase single-family homes, and that they were not able to freely choose the places where they and their families would move after being evicted.

What's more, the properties where these people ended up were absolutely unsuitable for occupancy. This drastic treatment is completely aligned with the many remarks Čunek has made about Romani people:

"The Roma know only their rights, so we must tell them that they have duties too."

"We will cure the adults through work and we will lead them to take responsiblity, and we will aid the children through study. Believe me, they will not pay any attention to their children..."

"The society has been drained by never wanting any contribution from some people, by giving them money, they destroy an apartment, for example, and society gives them money again..."

"Even those who are intelligent and those who might want [to study] are very few, exceptions..." (said about Romani children).

"That community is growing bigger and it is absolutely ineducable and lives just on welfare. If we didn't give them that, the prisons would be full..."

"Gypsies have never been accustomed to work... they will never have any relationship to any activity besides criminal activity..."

When asked once at a public gathering whether "other people" might one day be "subsidized like Roma", he answered: "You'll have to go get a suntan somewhere, begin making a mess with your family, light a fire on the town square and then maybe some politicians will advocate for you and say: 'The poor guy!'" (Of course "other people" are in fact "subsidized" in the Czech Republic in the absolutely same way that Romani people are).

The joke of 2012 was that Čunek became chair of the Czech Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights. That decision was a low point similar to the appointment of Stanislav Křeček as Deputy Ombudsperson.

Čunek most recently sparked significant attention when, in an interview for the daily Právo, he declared his belief that "homosexuality" is, in many cases, a choice, not an inborn predisposition. The Christian Democratic Party chair Pavel Bělobrádek has commented on him as follows: "It can be said that Jiří Čunek is a successful regional politician and that he enjoys an exceptional position in the Zlín Region. However, I do not know that anybody else would vote for us elsewhere because of him. On the contrary, I know rather a lot of people who do not vote for the KDU-ČSL because of him."

This is no surprise. Who would vote for a party who has a member who is a Regional Governor operating at the same low level as those who need to haul around gallows for the "traitors to the nation" in order to be absolutely happy?

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Antisemitismus, ČunekGATE, Čunek útočí na Romy, Racism



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