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Czech Republic: Hate is No Solution will defend Romani neighborhood this Sunday and into June

Břeclav, 21.4.2012 1:34, (ROMEA)

This Sunday will probably see only two assemblies in the Czech town of Břeclav. Representatives of the initiative calling itself a "March for Little Peter and Our Security" have joined with the Workers' Youth (Dělnická mládež - DM) and will meet up at a single event. Another event has been announced by the Hate is No Solution initiative (iniciativa Nenávist není řešení). The organization has announced it will be convening it starting this coming Sunday and lasting until 22 June on the streets where Romani people live in order to prevent ultra-right extremists from accessing the neighborhood.

According to Josef Šmída, the spokesperson for Hate is No Solution, the situation in Břeclav is very similar to the situation that came about at the end of last summer in Šluknov district. The situation might easily be exploited by right-wing extremists to organize more hate assemblies and marches.

"We have announced our assemblies in places where Romani people live with the aim of immediately preventing hate marches on neighborhoods where they might become the targets of uncontrolled hatred and violence committed by our fellow citizens. The primary aim is to prevent a further escalation of tensions in the town. Our interest is to calm the situation in Břeclav, to give moral support to the local Romani community, and to send the message to the majority that hatred is not the solution," Šmída said.

As many as 2 000 people are expected to arrive in the town for Sunday's meetings. For the time being it cannot be ruled out that the DM extremist march might incite anti-Romani sentiment. The fliers distributed by the "March for Little Peter", which has linked its event to the DM, include criticism of the Romani community.

The South Moravian Regional Police are preparing for Sunday. "We will have enough forces and technology available," police spokesperson Petra Vedrová told the Czech Press Agency. Police will use a monitoring vehicle equipped with a video camera system to record any illegal behavior by demonstrators.

Romani people throughout the country are concerned about Sunday's events. Many Romani organizations have already expressed regret for what happened to the 15-year-old boy, who was brutally beaten last weekend by three men. The victim's mother has said her son told her the assailants were Romani. Hate is No Solution has now offered its assistance and announced it would be holding events on 11 streets and two squares in Břeclav every day for the next two months.

"The extremists will not get into those spaces and the Romani residents will not have to be concerned for their safety. Obviously we will only convene protests if the police don't manage to safeguard the system we have agreed on," Šmída said, recalling that the initiative also offered help to Romani people during the recent unrest in Šluknov district. Šmída also said the initiative is in touch with the Břeclav branch of IQ Roma servis.

Sunday's march, which the town hall is listing as an event convened by "The Workers' Youth and Břeclav residents", will start at 12:30 CET at the Břeclav train station. People will march through the town and the event should end at around 15:00.

Mayor of Břeclav Oldřich Ryšavý and South Moravian Regional Governor Michal Hašek (both of the Czech Social Democrats - ČSSD) have sharply condemned the assault on the boy. They have also called on the public "not to join the wave of anti-Romani sentiment and hatred" being spread by the right-wing extremists.

The boy is still hospitalized. His state of health is improving. Doctors had to remove one of his kidneys after the assault, as it was damaged. He also suffered injury to his liver and spleen. For the time being it is not known when he might be released from the hospital. Dozens of people have expressed support for him, including the singer Michal David, who has said he will be dedicating an upcoming concert in Břeclav to him.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Radka Steklá, ras, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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