Czech Republic: Teplice residents say police there don't solve crimes with Romani victims
The main complaint being made by the Romani people who gathered in Teplice last Friday relates to the police and the fact that they do not take action in cases where Romani people are victims of crime. The recent murder of Ivan Jarka there was, in the view of the Romani community, a racist one.
Local Romani residents explain the fact that police are reportedly denying such motivation in Jarka's case by the fact that police have reportedly taken a bad approach toward the Romani community for years. An important reason they participated in the demonstration was that they felt the need to rehabilitate the name of the murdered man after the Czech media spread the rumor that he had been murdered for stealing two bratwurst. Mainstream media outlets in the country have not also reported that the people assaulted in the incident, including the murder victim, were Romani and the assailant was not.
"We must finally show that there has been enough of this. We want to unify everyone Romani as well as the majority part of society that is no fan of discrimination and anti-Romani sentiment. We want tolerance," said Štefan Tišer, chair of the Equal Opportunities Party (Strana rovných příležitostí), which organized the event.
Roma: This was a racist murder
The murder of Ivan Jarka (age 49) took place on 26 May at about 4 AM. According to information that news server Romea.cz has managed to gather from eyewitnesses and the friends and relatives of the victims, the entire incident happened roughly as follows:
Several young Romani people walked past some stalls selling bratwurst and hot dogs. A stallkeeper who had consumed too much wine started shouting racist slogans at them. The youths started arguing with him. Ivan Jarka ran over and stood up for the Romani youths verbally, after which he and a stallkeeper began a shoving match. Then Jarka began walking away in the direction of the town hall. The stallkeeper then called to a friend of his, who began threatening the Roma with a knife. In the end he cut or stabbed two of them and broke the hand of a third. He then ran after Ivan Jarka (together with the stallkeeper) and murdered him with the knife.
The originally reported information that the perpetrator stabbed Jarka 21 times has not been confirmed by anyone else, but all eyewitnesses do say there was more than one stab wound delivered. One of the other youths assaulted is in critical condition in hospital with stab wounds to his back in the area of the kidneys and spleen.
The murder victim stole nothing
Antonín Jarka, the brother of the murdered man, is outraged by the allegations that Ivan Jarka had wanted to steal something. "Even those boys weren't interested in stealing any hot dogs, and they didn't steal any either. They just walked by and the stallkeepers started shouting 'you black mugs' at them. My brother didn't need to steal any hot dogs, that's just a rumor, he had plenty of money. It most probably was all revenge for what happened in Duchcov [where several Romani people ruthlessly beat up a "white" married couple - Editors]. The attack in Duchcov was ugly, and precisely what made it so wrong was that the couple were innocent," Antonín Jarka is convinced.
What kind of person was his brother? "He was a good person, a modest one. He wasn't the jealous type, he loved his children and his family," Antonín Jarka told news sever Romea.cz.
According to Olga Gaňová, the mother of the Romani victim whose hand was broken, what took place was under no circumstances about hot dog theft. "No one went there to steal hot dogs like the stallkeepers claimed. The boys and Mr Jarka had money, enough money to buy what they need. The whole thing started when they were shouting at my son and his friends that they are 'black mugs'. The one who knifed them was shouting racist curses too. Along with Mr Jarka a total of three people were stabbed, one of whom is in hospital with serious injuries. They stabbed him in his lower back and evidently a serious operation awaits him. I also don't understand why they haven't taken the second stallkeeper into custody, the one who incited his friend with the knife against our boys. He bears a great deal of the guilt for what happened but the police let him go. If Gypsies had done this, no one would have been released. There has always been racism and here and there always will be," Ms Gaňová said bitterly.
Květa Hajašová told news server Romea.cz she was an eyewitness to the incident and said that under no circumstances was it about bratwurst or hot dogs. "The people from that stand were drunk and were provoking the boys. Mr Mikoro [Ivan Jarka's nickname - Editors], the deceased, stood up for them and paid the biggest price for it. They say two people jumped into it - I didn't see that, there were too many people there - and one started to stab him. I believe that if Mr Mikoro hadn't run over there, at least two of the boys they were assaulting would be dead too," Hajašová said.
Police take wrong approach toward Romani residents
Many of those who attended Friday's demonstration complained during their interviews with news server Romea.cz of police inaction in cases where Romani people are victims. For example, František Daňka said that "the gadje beat up my son when he was standing on the street next to a friend who was holding a bicycle. They probably thought the friend had stolen the bike, but I don't know that, I'm just guessing. They beat up my son who was standing next to him and nothing to do with the bike. I went to report it to the police and brought them the medical records, but the cops wrote nothing down and refused to take a copy of the records," Daňka told news server Romea.cz.
"I can't go outside in the evening because I don't know whether I would make it back alive," a 20-year-old girl from Teplice who did not want her name to be used told news server Romea.cz. "Not long ago six men stopped me on the street, all of them young guys, only one was older. He had a dog, and he was the one who started it all. First he said his dog hates Gypsies. Then he asked me if I were pregnant. I told him I was, even though I'm not, because I hoped it meant he would leave me alone, but then he said his dog would devour my bastard. Then the younger ones started punching and pushing me. I reported it to the police, they wrote it down, and nothing has been done about it since. It's as if I never reported it."
An older woman told news server Romea.cz that a driver who wanted to park his vehicle on the sidewalk recently honked at her daughter, and when she didn't get out of the way immediately, the people in the car started shouting "Gypsies to the gas chambers" at her. She said police also never solved that crime even though it was reported.
"Those on top are living well. They keep talking about how the Roma are on welfare and do nothing. We want work, but we don't get hired. Moreover, that welfare is sanctioned by the state, while the asset-stripping those at the top commit is not," said demonstrator Jiřina Gujdová.
The loud chants of "We want work" at the demonstration confirmed her words. "We have gathered here to convince the public that this murder was not about hot dogs, but that it was racially motivated. However, too few of us have come here to convince them. I don't want to discuss this too much, but I am starting to lose faith in people who promise something and then don't keep their word because they are too lazy to come here. There were many people at the funeral, but almost no one has come here to honor the memory of this murdered man," activist Jozef Miker of Krupka said. About 80 - 90 people attended the demonstration.
"We must realize first and foremost that by doing what we do, including demonstrating, we have our children's backs. We don't want to live to see our children curse us for the life we have prepared for them. We must fight on. People from the majority must realize that what is tested on the Romani people today will be tried on them 10 or 20 years from now. One day they will live in the world we are living in today. One example for everyone: When people were let go from the factories in the 1990s, the Roma were the first to be fired. The majority insisted, 'That's good, it's just the Gypsies, we have work.' How many in the majority have no work today?" Miker said.
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