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Czech Romanies blame minister for potential extremist attacks

Prague, 4.12.2008 10:04, (ROMEA)

Minorities and Human Rights Minister Dzamila Stehlikova (Greens) would be directly responsible for a possible extremists' effort to attack Romanies again, some Czech Romany activists said in a letter sent to Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek today.

Last week, the Romany activists proposed that Stehlikova be dismissed. Stehlikova has rejected the effort.

Demonstrations organised by far-right radicals provoked unrest in Litvinov, North Bohemia. The extremists marched towards the Romany-inhabited Janov housing estate on October 4 and 18 and on November 17. The latest march developed into sharp clashes with the police during which 16 people were injured.

However, some locals voiced solidarity with the marchers as they resent what they call "unadaptable" behaviour of the local Romanies.

"From the viewpoint of the Romany community, the so-called solution in Janov by Stehlikova has directly threatened further Romany communities and brought about attacks by members of the radical movement," the letter sent by Ivan Vesely, deputy chairman of the government council for Romany affairs, said.

"She has disclosed her ignorance of the issue by a number of statements that are unacceptable for Romanies and for which she later apologised," Vesely wrote.

Vesely said Stehlikova had damaged the "basic trust" of Romanies.

Besides, she has always preferred the interest of her own party to those of Romanies, he added.

The project of the government agency for social integration in excluded localities has also "absolutely failed," the letter said.

Stehlikova was unable to cope with the situation at the Janov housing estate partly inhabited by Romanies, it added.

"There was a single result of the riots. Stehlikova has apologised, saying that Janov ought to have been placed in a special pilot project, whereby she promised a special flow of money to the local town hall," Vesely said.

In doing so, Stehlikova "has created a model for blackmailing the Czech Republic by town halls," he added.

Stehlikova told CTK the accusations were "bizarre" and Vesely's step had taken her by surprise.

"He has been with me to tens of meetings and he has never said anything of this type," she said.

Vesely wrote the post of a government commissioner for Romany affairs with wider-ranging powers should be established. Vesely wrote this model had proved well in Slovakia.

The government council for Romany affairs should also have more powers and its members should devote themselves to its work professionally, he added.

CTK
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