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Czech Republic faces great civic disturbances-Romany activist

Prague, 19.11.2008 22:24, (ROMEA)

The Czech Republic faces the greatest possible civic disturbances due to recent events in Litvinov where the police prevented far right radicals from marching through a Romany-populated housing estate, Cyril Koky, member of the government council for Romany affairs said today.

He told the Romea.cz server that Czech politicians including Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS) underestimated the situation because they had not condemned the extremists' conduct. Koky called on Czech Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Dzamila Stehlikova (Green Party, SZ) to consider remaining in her post.

He said Stehlikova "had exhausted her potential."

In a statement released to CTK in reaction to Koky, Stehlikova said the problem cannot be solved by her resignation but, on the contrary, by her continuing her work on settling the situation in Litvinov.

She called on Koky to accept his share of responsibility and join her team working on the integration of the Romany inhabitants of the housing estate involved.

Stehlikova, on a visit to Canada, said her team is trying to support the sending of street workers to problematic housing estates, to create jobs for local residents, and to have money flow to the area from EU funds.

"I invite Koky to join the efforts as the government council member," Stehlikova said.

She said she would visit Litvinov after her return from Canada next week. She will gladly take Koky with her so that he can eyewitness the problems in Janov, the housing estate with mainly Romany inhabitants.

"I am absolutely disgusted by the latest events in Litvinov and especially by the lack of reaction from the Czech political elite including the prime minister. The prime minister should stop dealing with internal party disputes and should not underestimate the situation," Koky said.

Koky was alluding to internal party disputes in the ODS after it lost the October regional and Senate elections in which the senior opposition Social Democrats won a landslide victory,.

Critics within the ODS demand the unseating of Topolanek as the party head. His main rival is ODS first deputy chairman and Prague Mayor Pavel Bem who has announced that he will run for ODS chairmanship against Topolanek at the ODS December national congress.

Koky said the Czech Republic was threatened with the "greatest civic disturbances that the country could face."

The Romea.cz server also published a statement by members of the government council for Romany affairs, according to which far right extremists are seeking to provoke Romanies to commit violence.

The council members praised Interior Minister Ivan Langer (ODS) who has filed a proposal for the outlawing of the far right Workers' Party (DS).

"We are calling on other top politicians, including top government representatives not to stay indifferent to the provocation that could develop into mass killings of innocent people," the statement says.

In addition, Romanies are not only endangered by supporters of neo Nazism but also by some people who sympathise with them, the statement says.

Stehlikova is on a visit to Canada where many Czech Romanies have left recently to apply for political asylum in the country.

Stehlikova wants to persuade the Canadian authorities that Romanies in the Czech Republic face no danger. She wants to convince some Romany families to return home.

On Monday, about 1000 riot policemen clashed with some 500 supporters of the far-right Workers' Party near Janov, a Romany housing estate in Litvinov, north Bohemia, in what was probably the toughest encounter since 2000 when riots accompanied the world financial institutions' session in Prague.

Of the 16 people injured in the incident, in which a helicopter, mounted police and water cannons were deployed, two stay in hospital.

Langer submitted the proposal to outlaw the DS in early November.

"I will definitely support minister Langer and his proposal," Topolanek has said.

"Excesses like those in Litvinov must be punished with very hard measures," Topolanek said.

CTK
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Czech republic, Neo-Nazism, Janov



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