Czech Republic: Romani residents of Tanvald oppose planned demonstration for new investigation of 2012 shooting
On Saturday 11 April a demonstration will be held in the Czech town of Tanvald calling for a new investigation into the case of a Romani man who was shot to death there on New Year's Day 2012. The event is being convened by activist Andrej Lučka in collaboration the father of the murdered youth, Ladislav Tatár.
Jan Sieber of Tanvald was 63 years old when he shot the Romani youth and his brother in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2012. The 22-year-old Ladislav died on the spot, while his 24-year-old brother Patrik survived his gunshot wound.
The organizer of the demonstration alleges that both the police and the state prosecutor proceeded incorrectly in investigating the case. "There are many unclear things about the case of Ladislav Tatár, Jr's shooting. As his father insists, the knife that the boys allegedly used to attack Mr Sieber has never been found. State police officers were counseled in the home of the attacker and the reconstruction took place without the injured Patrik being present - the shooter was never asked to take a lie detector test and there are also suspicions that the detectives were biased," Lučka told news server Romea.cz.
The organizer also points to the documentary film about the incident by directors Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda, "Life and Death in Tanvald" ("Život a smrt v Tanvaldu"), which warned that the course of the investigation had been unclear, among other things. "Moreover, the shooter talks about the Tatár family there using the words 'they are multiplying'... there's no question he is a racist," Lučka said.
Some residents of Tanvald disagree with the upcoming assembly, which is inviting Romani people from other towns such as Jablonec, Liberec, Nový Bor and its environs to attend. A committee comprised of the local Romani Democratic Party organization, in collaboration with members of the Romani Arts Workshop Tanvald have filed an objection with the town hall against the planned demonstration along with a petition against it signed by 101 people.
Their main objections are concerns about safety and disruption of the balance of coexistence between majority-society members and local Romani residents. "Local Roma do not at all like the fact that Romani people from elsewhere will flock to Tanvald, demonstrate, and then just go back home. The locals who disagree with this demonstration will suffer the consequences of it. Already now we are being closely watched in the shops by majority-society members who are angry, who fear they should be anticipating some kind of 'revenge'. We are of the opinion that there are other ways to renew the investigation of the case of the boy who was shot. Local Roma are afraid the result will be racially motivated attacks," Patrik Kotlár, a member of the petition committee, told news server Romea.cz.
On that same day a celebration of International Romani Day had been scheduled to take place in Tanvald, including a children's day. "Because the demonstration organizers would not back down, we have been forced to halt those preparations and to cancel the whole event," Kotlár explained.
"Yes, we received a petition expressing disagreement with the demonstration and requesting that it be cancelled," Mayor Vladimír Vyhnálek confirmed to news server Romea.cz. "We couldn't even do that if we wanted to, which we don't - the event was properly announced to the authorities. At the moment the situation in Tanvald is calm. I think the demonstration will take place without any problems."
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