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Czech ProAlt initiative: Lucrative land possibly at stake on Přednádraží street

Ostrava/Prague, 8.8.2012 23:46, (ROMEA)

The Czech civic initiative ProAlt believes the current situation on Přednádraží street is primarily the result of the failures of the responsible officials of the town of Ostrava. ProAlt believes it is possible that the real aim of the evictions underway may be the lucrative land near which a private college is soon to be built. News server Romea.cz publishes the initiative's press release in full translation below.

ProAlt Press Release

Since Friday, 3 August, the Office of the Municipal Department of Moravská Ostrava and Přívoz has been insisting on the immediate eviction of the tenants living in apartment buildings on Přednádraží street. The reason for the eviction is the poor state of these buildings, as described in a decision rendered by the Building Works Authority in Ostrava.

That same office also recognizes that a significant portion of the blame for the poor state of the buildings has to do with the broken sewer lines. A decisive portion of their maintenance and repair falls within the competencies of the local municipality. Tenants have been asking in vain for the buildings to be repaired for more than 10 years. The tenants are making minor repairs to the buildings on their own now in an effort to get the Building Works Authority to change its decision.

The current situation on Přednádraží street is primarily the result of the failures of the responsible officials of the town of Ostrava. Moreover, the question is being raised as to whether these failures are not motivated by reasons of profit. This is lucrative land near which a private college is soon to be built. The disastrous situation of the buildings in the locality is being exploited at this moment. The people living there are supposed to move out from one day to the next, leaving the place where many of them have lived for decades or even their entire lives.

"The substitute accommodation which the municipal officials are offering to the residents of Přednádraží street under the threat of forced eviction consists of overpriced residential hotels, which most probably are also good business for someone," says Petr Rohel, an activist with the Ostrava branch of ProAlt. "The trap of poverty, complete with collections agents and loan sharks, awaits these people, a life where they will be in constant fear of ending up on the street and having their children institutionalized. The municipal authorities are not distinguishing at all between those who are in arrears, those who are rent defaulters, and those who have never caused any problems. Many of these people have lived in this locality for years, paying their rent on time, and they do not owe anyone anything for their use of these apartments."

The media, including the public broadcasters, have repeatedly spoken of the situation in the "ghetto on Přednádraží street“. The implication is that this is just about Romani people, the socially deprived, the "inadaptables", that they are definitely the ones to blame for this situation, and that such a matter has nothing to do with orderly citizens. The media are either mistaken or intentionally misleading the public. "A society that tolerates the violation of the fundamental rights of discriminated minorities is preparing a similar fate for everyone else. Non-Romani families are already among those being driven out of Přednádraží street," warns ProAlt spokesperson Martin Škabraha.

Přednádraží street is the concern of all of Ostrava, and Ostrava is the concern of the entire Czech Republic. Anywhere you look in this country, officials take no action until a situation becomes one, metaphorically speaking, of the sewers backing up out of the cellars and to the surface - and usually those who pay are not the ones who created the situation. That is why it is necessary to show our solidarity with the residents of Přednádraží street. The authorities now have one last chance to correct what they have done, either by renovating those buildings which can still be saved, where the landlord and tenants are willing to work on repairing the sewer lines, or by providing appropriate substitute housing. If they do not make such corrections, the citizens should stand up to them as decisively as possible.

Gwendolyn Albert, tisková zpráva, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Press Release of ProAlt, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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