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July 6, 2020
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Czech Police arrest opponents of new ombudsman who blockaded his access to the office on his first day

20.2.2020 11:53
Police in Brno, Czech Republic intervened on 20 February 2020 against those opposed to the newly-elected Public Defender of Rights, Stanislav Křeček. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec, Romea.cz)
Police in Brno, Czech Republic intervened on 20 February 2020 against those opposed to the newly-elected Public Defender of Rights, Stanislav Křeček. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec, Romea.cz)

Today in Brno, Czech Republic, opponents of the new Public Defender of Rights, Stanislav Křeček, attempted to prevent him from accessing the office on his first day. They refused to obey instructions from the representatives of the municipal department and the police to stop blockading the entrance to the building.

According to the most recent information, police arrested seven people and cleared the entrance. Křeček then made it inside after about 10 minutes of waiting.

His predecessor, Anna Šabatová, handed the agenda over to him inside the office. In reaction to the protests, Křeček told journalists that the results of a democratic election must be respected.

"Even if we have different opinions - I also dislike many things, but I cannot address them in such way. After all, I am not the first office-holder to take up a public post. Such carrying-on doesn't even happen when the Defense Minister takes office, it's incomprehensible, I don't know why this is happening. On the other hand, this attracts attention to the office, which is good. Many people didn't even know it's here and what it does, so now everybody knows. That is only good for the office. For the democratic image of this state, it's not good," the 81-year-old ombudsman said.

VIDEO

In front of the building about 20 opponents of Křeček were standing on the stairs this morning. They assembled at the instigation of journalist Jakub Patočka, who called for the blockade through social media.

According to Patočka, Křeček is not qualified to administer the office, Czech President Zeman should never have nominated him and the Chamber of Deputies should never have elected him. Those opposed to his appointment carried signs with slogans such as "The fox guards the hen house" or "A state that does not protect the rights of its minorities is on the road to fascism".

According to those opposed to him, Křeček is constantly demonstrating that he has no clue about international agreements on how human rights are currently conceived. Patočka, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the Deník Referendum news server, explained his protest by saying he is bothered by Křeček's discriminatory, racist opinions.

"[Křeček's opinions] demonstrate his obscurantist relationship toward protecting the citizens' human rights, and they also document his gross disregard of the Constitution as the basis of our democracy. It may even be considered our direct constitutional right to oppose the Chamber of Deputies' choice," the journalist declared.

There were approximately 10 supporters of Křeček present who took up space on the sidewalk in front of the building. They were mostly from the ranks of the "Decent People" (Slušní lidé) movement or supporters of that group which, in May 2018, disrupted a controversial theatrical production in Brno, "Our Violence, Your Violence" (Naše násilí a vaše násilí).

Křeček's supporters held signs reading "Dear Mr Křeček, we wish you all the best in your new job as ombudsman." Their open letter to the ombudsman said: "We are prepared to physically stand up for you if anybody actually prevents you entering the headquarters, but on the other hand we don't want to discredit these celebratory moments with any scuffles, even if they are with persons behaving illegally."

The ombudsman was elected last week by the Chamber of Deputies and took his oath of office there yesterday. This was his first day on the job in Brno.

ČTK, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Demonstrace, Ombudsman, Policie, protest



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