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Czech Republic: Local Romani residents of Břeclav help authorities look for perpetrators of recent assault

Břeclav, 20.4.2012 23:14, (ROMEA)

After the recent assault in Břeclav during which a 15-year-old boy was seriously injured, Czech Police are doing their best to apprehend what they suspect were three assailants. Local Romani residents of the town would also like an answer to the question of who was behind the attack. Entrepreneur Josef Polák, who knows the Romani community in Břeclav well, is collaborating with police on the investigation.

"Local Romani residents do not want another Šluknov here," claims Polák, whose own son lost an eye 15 years ago during a brawl with skinheads. Despite that experience, Polák has steeled himself against feeling hatred as a father.

Polák employs dozens of local Romani people. "The police contacted me because as an entrepreneur who employs Romani people, I know all the Gypsies in town, even the children. For four days I have been asking around as to who might have done this. According to what I have found out, I have directed the police to follow up clues that lead to Slovakia," the entrepreneur said.

Polák mainly hopes the situation in town does not escalate further. "If my suspicious are confirmed, there will be no reason for the extremists to come to Břeclav to settle scores. We don't want to go to war, we want peace," Polák said. His greatest wish is that the march announced by right-wing radicals for this Sunday in Břeclav will take place without violence. "Violence solves nothing," is his message to the right-wing extremists.

After last Sunday's attack, Polák says that anti-Romani sentiment and tense emotions have prevailed in Břeclav. "Over the last few days you could feel the tension everywhere. In the parks, in the stores, on the streets. Romani children are afraid to go to school, people are shouting racist slogans at them here," he said.

Polák believes these negative emotions could easily be headed off by rapid police action. "If the police apprehended the assailants and announced their names before Sunday's march by the radicals, that would change it. We do not believe a local person did this. If a local Romani person had done this, we would know it by now. As far as I know, the detectives are doing their utmost to discover the perpetrators' identities," Polák said.

"I can't answer for all of the Romani people who live here, there are bunches of various teenagers. However, in my opinion, our Romani people will stay out of it and will wait at home until the march is over and the situation calms down," Polák said.

Gwendolyn Albert, Radka Steklá, ras, iDNES.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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