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Czech intelligence: Protesting the ultra-right makes you "extremist", pro-Romani activists are "biased"

Prague, 27.10.2014 16:48, (ROMEA)
In the northern Bohemian town of Duchcov an anti-Romani demonstration was convened by right-wing extremists from the DSSS on 29 March 2014 (PHOTO:  Lukáš Matoška)
In the northern Bohemian town of Duchcov an anti-Romani demonstration was convened by right-wing extremists from the DSSS on 29 March 2014 (PHOTO: Lukáš Matoška)

Increased interethnic tensions in several regions last year represented the most significant risk factor to the democratic order of the Czech Republic, according to the Security Information Services (Bezpečnostní informační služby - BIS). Anti-Romani sentiment among certain segments of the public could become an even more significant problem for state security than the more extreme but less numerous right-wing radical groups.

Those are the conclusions of the annual report for last year published by the Czech domestic counter-intelligence service on its website today. The intelligence service reports that last year yet another series of anti-Romani demonstrations was often accompanied by violence.

The trigger mechanisms for most of these events were smaller incidents between representatives of the majority society and the Romani minority. "The frustration of ordinary citizens flowing from their problematic coexistence with some representatives of the Romani minority and the failure to resolve this situation can result at any time - as a result of the slightest impulse - not just in more radical displays and support for populist or right-wing extremist entities..., but in an escalation of the problem, particularly with regard to a rise in the population's feelings of distrust and scepticism toward the democratic principles of the Czech Republic," the counter-intelligence service warns in its report.  

According to BIS, citizens have also been gradually ventilating their negiative attitudes against the Romani population because several police measures gave them the feeling that the police "only protect the Roma", as police action with respect to the daily protection of the health and property of the "regular" population is insufficient. The media is also said to have failed its role by reporting on these demonstrations as actions by "extremists" even though local residents [who do not identify as extremist] have been well aware that they themselves were the dominant participants in them.

The intelligence service also reports that "The non-objective, one-sided statements made by various non-governmental groups and pro-Romani activists can also very often be evaluated negatively, as they have labeled only the majority society as the cause of this plight and have relieved the Roma of any responsibility for the given state of affairs." News server Romea.cz brings you in full translation below the entirety of the sections of the report on this issue.

BIS Annual Report, Chapter on Protection of Constitutionality and the Democratic Basis of the State

Increased inter-ethnic tensions and anti-Romani marches

The most significant risk factor to the democratic order of the Czech Republic in 2013 was the increased interethnic tension in some regions. From a long-term perspective, anti-Romani sentiment among certain segments of the public could become a more significant problem for state security than the more extreme but less numerous right-wing radical groups.

The frustration of ordinary citizens flowing from their problematic coexistence with some representatives of the Romani minority and the failure to resolve this situation can result at any time - as a result of the slightst impulse - not just in more radical displays and support for populist or right-wing extremist entities who are "presenting" their vision of how to solve this problem, but in an escalation of the problem, particularly with regard to a rise in the population's feelings of distrust and scepticism toward the democratic principles of the Czech Republic.

Increased interethnic tensions in 2013 brought about yet another series of anti-Romani demonstrations, often accompanied by violence.

The trigger mechanisms for most of these events were smaller-scale incidents between representatives of the majority society and the Romani minority.

In the beginning these anti-Romani demonstrations differed from typical right-wing extremist actions, as they were dominated by local citizens venting their dissatisfaction with what they view as the insufficient resolution of problems with the Romani minority and the approach of the public authorities responsible for that area. However, the character of the demonstrations gradually changed over time.

The number of actions organized by dissatisfied citiznes declined and the number organized by right-wing extremists increased. The participation of local residents in the events gradually declined as well. Locals no longer comprised the majority of those demonstrating and more hooligans, right-wing extremists and various rioters participated in the assemblies instead.  As far as the character and course of these events was concerned, most of the demonstrations in the beginning were accompanied by violence, but gradually the long-time residents' events began to take place more or less peacefully and rioting occurred mainly at the meetings where most of those participating were right-wing extremists and other radicals.

It also became more and more clear that the right-wing extremists and other participants in the violent demonstrations were particularly interested in high-adrenaline experiences, not in addressing the situations in troubled localities. Many of these actions were planned in advance as confrontations.

The original reasons as to why some members of the public were willing to vent their negative attitudes about the Romani population and even participate in right-wing extremist actions were soon supplanted by other reasons over time.

Paradoxically, those reasons were, for example, ad hoc police measures which, while they prevented greater rioting, involved an aggressive attitude of police that sparked the feeling among some locals that the police "only protect the Roma", while their everyday work protecting the and property of "regular" people is insufficient.  

The media also failed its role by reporting on these demonstrations as actions by "extremists" even though local residents [who do not identify as extremist] were well aware that they themselves were the dominant participants in them.

Some local municipalities and police characterized the situation in places of interethnic tension as calm even though the feelings of the local residents were anything but, which did not ultimately contribute to calming emotions.

The non-objective, one-sided statements made by various non-governmental groups and pro-Romani activists can also very often be evaluated negatively, as they have labeled only the majority society as the cause of this plight and have relieved the Roma of any responsibility for the given state of affairs.

When citizens with personal experiences [of interethnic tensions] confronted this one-sided manipulation [by pro-Romani activists and NGOs] with the deteriorating economic situation of most of the majority society, they stopped trusting in standard democratic mechanisms and began to prefer more extreme opinions in this area. Naturally, the right-wing extremists were glad to exploit this and did so during the actions described above.

Right-wing extremism

The nationalist-radical / neo-Nazi scene as a whole did not represent a real threat in 2013 or an immediate risk to the democratic basis of the Czech Republic. While individual incidents were reported that could be characterized as serious, these were non-systematic phenomena which, from a global perspective, did not essentially increase the danger of right-wing extremism.

The scene remained fragmented and continued to be comprised of many small entities concentrating primarily on their local interests. Relations between the various groups were often ambivalent - in some regions there was close collaboration, manifesting itself, for example, in several activists being involved in the activities of more than one entity, but elswhere rather significant rivalries dominated and there were no closer relationships developed.

The activity of these various groups was of a diverse nature in 2013. Some subjects mainly concentrated on political and propaganda activities, others foused on solidarity actions or engaged in charity and public benefit work (in several places around the Czech Republic, for example, they participated in cleaning up after the floods or providing material support to several animal shelters). Some individuals participated in events of a violent nature.

The one binding theme that activated a larger number of right-wing extremists was the demonstrations against the Romani minority, against the crime they commit, and against their inadaptable lifestyle. The ultra-right did its best to exploit anti-Romani sentiment among a segment of the public to its advantage.  

The theme was accented during election rallies in the runup to the vote on the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic on 25 and 26 October 2013.

As they do every year, right-wing extremists organized traditional demonstrations and meetings in particular on the occasion of several state holidays, significant neo-Nazi movement events, or to honor the memory of deceased activists. Right-wing extremist actions featuring live music continued to occur in the same form as that begun in previous years. Instead of openly right-wing extremist events, these were gatherings of a hard rock or metal nature during which the bands performing often did not espouse right-wing extremism (at least not openly). Concerts abroad remained popular.  

In the promotion of right-wing extremism and in communications in this area, the internet continued to play a dominant role. Mutual cooperation between Czech right-wing extremists and those abroad functioned in 2013 on the basis of personal ties.  Cooperation with extremists from Germany and Slovakia continued in a standard way. There was an intensification of relations with Polish extremists, in particular of contacts between hooligans. A small part of the scene maintains ties to activists from other countries.

Left-wing extremism

Left-wing extremists did not represent a direct threat in 2013 to the democratic order of the Czech Republic. Their efforts to reject the democratic system were more evident in their verbal expressions and their writing of many articles online than through actual deeds. The greatest risk factor flowing from their activity remained the threat to public order posed by their clashes with right-wing extremists during public assemblies.

The left-wing extremist scene has not undergone any marked development and continues to stagnate. Its mobilization potential was minimal given its weak membership base, interpersonal disputes, ideological differences and other problems persisting from previous years. Many entities are working within the framework of left-wing extremism that are often very marginal and of a predominantly regional nature. The character of their activities during 2013 did not significantly differ from that of previous years.

Anarcho-autonomous entites, despite internal problems, organized many actions with a cultural or educational subtext through which they wanted to attract potential supporters and bring their existing members closer together. Activities focused inside the movement included holding concerts, benefit actions, commemorative actions, lectures, discussions, film screenings, etc. Events aiming to address the public and familiarize them with anarcho-autonomous attitudes and ideas were of a regional nature and were smaller in scale.  

Marxist-Leninist entities were not very active in convening their own assemblies due to their low mobilization potential, and most of them participated in other groups' events. These were traditional commemorative meetings, memorial events on the occasion of various anniversaries related to the communist movement, assemblies, demonstrations in support of their fellow-travelers abroad, etc.  

During the first half of 2013 the theme common to both the anarcho-autonomous and Marxist-Leninist entities was the critique of the Nečas government and its reforms. Some people from the left-wing extremist spectrum were involved in anti-government demonstrations convened by a wide variety of left-oriented initiatives and platforms.  

An important profile theme for the anti-Fascist part of the ultra-left remained the fight against right-wing extremists in 2013. A certain activization in that direction was noted in relation to the outbreak of yet another wave of protest against the Romani minority. Followers of the ultra-left initiated a campaign to support Romani people and in many regions of the Czech Republic participated in large numbers in blockading anti-Romani assemblies whether convened by local residents or right-wing extremists. However, thanks to massive deployment of police forces, no serious clashes between followers of the ultra-left and ultra-right occurred during these assemblies but for a few exceptions involving individuals.  

Anti-Fascists, within the framework of their fight against their ideological opponents, organized blockades of other ultra-right events besides anti-Romani ones. In addition they continued to monitor neo-Nazis and representatives of the Workers Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), to publish information about them online, and to undertake physical attacks on leading right-wing extremists.

During 2013 there was a slight rise in squatter activity. In addition to traditional operations in this area there were several attempts to occupy empty real estate properties. However, these were of a demonstrative nature in particular. Their aim was not the permanent occupation of buildings, but to draw attention to the number of abandoned and dilapidated buildings and the non-existence of social housing.  

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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BIS, Demonstrace, Extremism, Racism



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