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Czech Police investigating local fake election campaign fliers insulting Romani people

17.9.2022 10:35
A fake campaign flier for the local elections in Bílina, Czech Republic (2022) and the candidate it references, the extreme-right Tomáš Vandas (Collage: Romea.cz)
A fake campaign flier for the local elections in Bílina, Czech Republic (2022) and the candidate it references, the extreme-right Tomáš Vandas (Collage: Romea.cz)

In Bílina, Czech Republic, the mailboxes of some residents have been stuffed with fake fliers in the runup to the local elections urging people not to vote for local candidate Tomáš Vandas and his group called "Bílina Clean and Safe" (Čistá a bezpečná Bílina), positing that if he wins, he will drive Romani people out of town, deprive them of their welfare benefits, and they will no longer be able "to live comfortable lives without working". The fake flier is signed "The Roma of Bílina". 

Police are investigating who produced the material. "Don't vote for Vandas! Don't vote for a clean and safe Bílina," the flier says, as well as:  "We are afraid they will win and they will want to drive us out of town, to introduce order, and to deprive us of our welfare benefits. [...] We want to keep on living comfortably without working, and next door to all of you!" 

The flier was posted to social media and delivered to the mailboxes of some Bílina residents along with the ballots for the upcoming local elections. "This flier is being delivered by postal workers in Bílina along with the ballots," Marcel Packert posted on Facebook next to a photograph of the flier.

Emil Karička, a barber in Bílina, confirmed that report as well through a live broadcast on Facebook, and both non-Roma and Romani locals are convinced that Vandas himself is behind the fake, insulting fliers as part of his campaign. "I don't know anything about this. If 'a whole bunch of people' are alleging I did this, then they certainly must have evidence to back up that allegation. I really do not have the time for such crap. Do not bother me again," Vandas, the chair of the Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS) who is running for the "Bílina Clean and Safe" group, responded to an inquiry from news server Romea.cz.

Lawyers believe the author and distributor of the flier may have committed a felony. "Apparently this poster was not created by any of Bílina's Romani residents, but by somebody as part of their election campaign, for political reasons," Klára Kalibová, a legal expert from the In IUSTITIA organization, told news server Romea.cz.    

"This poster is incendiary, it incites animosity on the basis of nationality, and it is appropriate to investigate whether the perpetrator, whose identity is not yet known, has committed felony incitement to hate a group," Kalibová said. News server Romea.cz has contacted police to ask whether they are now investigating the flier or will do so in the future. 

"We noticed the appearance of that flier on social media and we are already investigating, but we have not yet recorded any cases of it being physically delivered to somebody. All of the circumstances connected to this case are now the subject of an investigation," police spokesperson Daniel Vítek told news server Romea.cz. 

Anti-Romani attacks happen quite frequently during election campaigns in the Czech Republic. In 2018, for example, the Association of Most Residents for Most put up billboards with the slogans "We'll build a village for the riff-raff" or "Inadaptables need a final solution", and the movement called Most Open Town Hall published a flier with the motto "Poison isn't strong enough for these pests" and the slogan "Zero tolerance for inadaptables"

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

DSSS, Extremism, Local elections 2022, Racism



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