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Czech Romanies want protective guards to be created

Prague, 21.4.2009 11:17, (ROMEA)

Czech Romany activists call for protective guards to be established immediately now that a Romany family has been brutally attacked in Vitkov, north Moravia, Romea association says on its website.

The activists say the extremist movement's rise in the Czech Republic, also due to politicians and the state's lenience, results in attacks bearing symptoms of terrorism.

The guards should cooperate with the police and with local authorities in protecting Romany families, writes Romea, some members of which are part of the government council for the Romany minority affairs.

The activists call on politicians, the Interior Ministry and the Czech public to stand up against intensifying neo-Nazism and extremism.

"Romanies are the target today, but it could be the turn of anyone of you tomorrow," they write.

The guards should not be set to provoke violence but to protect their families' members, the appeal says, calling on Romanies to shun open clashes with extremists and not to succumb to the latter's provocations that are obvious in recent months.

Apart from Romea representatives, the appeal, called Enough! (Dost!), has been signed by representatives of Dzeno, another Romany organisation, including the government council deputy chairman Ivan Vesely and the council member Cyril Koky, and members of other Romany groups.

A two-year-old girl, who suffered burns in the fire of a family house in Vitkov on Sunday, probably caused by a Molotov cocktail attack, is hospitalised in a critical state.

Indignant over the brutal attack, Romanies are preparing a public fund raising and a protest meeting in support of the afflicted family.

"The things the country has witnessed in the past year and a half are an extraordinary situation," Vesely told CTK.

"The government should ask the commander in chief of the armed forces, which is President Vaclav Klaus, to send the military to protect Romany localities," Vesely said.

He said protective or monitoring guards actually have been operating.

All next marches and demonstrations the far-right Workers' Party or the Autonomous Nationalist movement would stage and announce beforehand will be accompanied by a team consisting of Romanies. "It will narrowly cooperate with the police and with the mayor [of the town concerned]. It will somehow organise it in a way to prevent conflicts between Romanies and the demonstrators," Vesely said.

The Czech Federation of Jewish Communities, too, said it minds the way the state approaches the neo-Nazis.

The uncertainty of the responsible institutions and the incapability of using legislative tools to prevent neo-Nazi activities, which include arson and attempts to kill, must stop," Jewish Communities' Federation chairman Jiri Danicek says in a press released sent to CTK.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said after the government meeting today that the state wants to apply both repression and prevention in fighting extremism.

The new strategy in this respect should be adopted at the outgoing cabinet's last meeting due in a fortnight.

Another house inhabited by a Romany family flared up in Prosec, east Bohemia, this night. The house was empty when the fire broke out. The police say that either negligence or arson might have been behind the fire. No racial motive has been detected in this case for now.

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