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Czech and German NGOs plan to focus on the victims of violent hate crime

Prague, 6.11.2009 12:02, (ROMEA)

Several Czech and German NGOs involved in the “Hate Crime – Forgotten Victims” project plan to map the situation of victims of violent hate crime in the Czech Republic. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, NGO representatives told journalists there is a lack of statistics on the number of victims and the kinds of violence they encounter. Victims include not only the Roma, but foreigners, homosexuals and those involved in alternative cultures.

The NGOs define hate crime as either physical or verbal attacks on others due to their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or membership in a particular social group. "The victims are specific in that there is nothing they can do to change their situation. They are attacked simply because they exist,” Miroslav Bohdálek of the Dresden-based Kulturbüro Sachsen organization said.

Bohdálek said official numbers concerning this kind of violence are published annually by the Czech Interior Ministry, but in his view these statistics do not correspond to reality and the numbers published are many times lower than what actually occurs. "We want to create an association of organizations performing this monitoring and compile data as to which sorts of people are becoming the victims of hate crimes in the Czech Republic and to what extent, in what sorts of numbers,” Bohdálek said.

The “Hate Crime – Forgotten Victims” project was initiated this June and will end in April 2010. Participants are focusing on the question of what kind of assistance is provided to hate crime victims. "In the Czech Republic there is almost no counseling for these victims, or rather, it is only in the beginning phases,” Bohdálek said. Among the organizations that have been focusing on hate crime victims in recent months he listed the In Iustitia organization, which collaborates with the ROMEA association, and the activist Markus Pape.

Bohdálek says victims of violent hate crimes in the Czech Republic often have a negative impression of the police. In his view, this is because the police are unwilling to address these types of crimes. “Basically, these people do not even turn to the police, they don’t turn to any organizations at all, because they have the feeling that no one will help them even if they do,” Bohdálek said.

The “Hate crime – Forgotten Victims” project is a co-production of the Kulturbüro Sachsen organization and the Fund for Memory, Responsibility and the Future (Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft) in Germany, and the Czech associations Tolerance and Civil Society (Tolerance a občanská společnost), ROMEA, and In Iustitia. Most of these organizations also contributed to the project “Dangerous Liaisons – Right-wing Extremism in the Local Cross-border Context” (Nebezpečné známosti - Pravicový extremismus v malém pohraničním styku) which resulted in the publication of a study of the same name.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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