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Czech Republic: 2 000 people march against Roma in Břeclav, neo-Nazis try to raid Romani neighborhoods

Břeclav, 22.4.2012 23:32, (ROMEA)
Czech people demonstrating against Romani people in Břeclav today. The sign reads "What else has to happen?" PHOTO:  Repro video iDNES.cz.

A demonstration was held today in Břeclav in support of a 15-year-old boy who was beaten up by three men last Sunday. At least one of the assailants was allegedly Romani. A total of 2 000 people attended the assembly, which was supposed to culminate in speeches being made on the town's central T.G.M. square by organizers from the right-wing extremist group Workers' Youth (Dělnická mládež - DM), representatives of local Břeclav residents, and the chair of the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) Tomáš Vandas. In the end, however, the crowd divided into two sections, with most people choosing to hold a rather stormy discussion with Mayor Oldřich Ryšavý (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) on the steps of the town hall.

The meeting started just before 13:00 at the Břeclav main train station. People carried signs reading "While the town hall sleeps, the gypsy murders" or "Let's stop gypsy terror". Some people set out onto the streets shouting "Gypsies get to work!". After several minutes, the march made it to T.G.M. square, where most of the demonstrators noticed Mayor Ryšavý standing in front of the town hall and surrounded him. Ryšavý faced harangues from demonstrators about the poor security situation in the town. He did his best to explain the steps the town hall is taking in its effort to change the existing state of affairs.

Vandas suggested to Ryšavý that he come to the other side of the square to address the DM event, which had a good sound system, but the mayor refused. "I don't want to have anything to do with the radicals and Vandas," he told the Czech Press Agency. When the promoters of Vandas announced their rally was beginning, most people remained in front of the town hall.

After a brief speech by Vandas, the right-wing radicals' assembly ended, but they did not return to the train station. After the event was dispersed, about 100 neo-Nazis set off for Riegrova street, where Romani people live, but a group of riot police blocked their way.

The mother of the beaten boy attended the event as well, but did not speak to the right-wing radicals. Instead, she spoke in front of the town hall, where she thanked those there for supporting her son. "I did not expect so many people to come here. Luckily he is getting better and better. He is already eating on his own and walking, which is progress," she told the Czech Press Agency. Her son lost a kidney because of the attack, which also damaged his liver and spleen. For the time being it is not yet known how long his treatment will take.

"I would like to thank the citizens of Břeclav. Despite the bitterness that is prevalent in the town, they did not succumb to the extremists' propaganda and did not join them. The march took place without violence. It is for the police to investigate this matter and apprehend the perpetrator. I would like to thank the police in particular today for their professional handling of the situation, which I had the opportunity to personally observe all day long," South Moravian Governor Michal Hašek said.

The attack on the boy occurred last Sunday at the Břeclav Shopping Center. The three men are said to have at first asked him for a cigarette at around 21:00. When he said he didn't have one, they beat him brutally. Detectives are looking for the perpetrators, who face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of grievous bodily harm. Romani residents of Břeclav insist their community has nothing to do with the attack.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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