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Emil Voráč: Attacks on Romani people can be expected in our region, racism is rising here

Aš/Chodov , 2.3.2012 17:00, (ROMEA)
Emil Voráč (left) of the Chodov-based association Khamoro, seen here with children from their dance ensemble participating in the defilé of the Khamoro music festival in Prague. The Khamoro festival is organized annually by the Slovo 21 association. Photo:  Khamoro Association.

Romea.cz has interviewed Emil Voráč, chair of the Khamoro association, about his impressions of the recent arson attack in Aš. The association is based in Chodov near Karlovy Vary and works throughout the entire region, including Aš, running drop-in facilities for children and youth, a citizens' advice bureau, and performing field social work.

"An arson attack or something like that could have been somewhat expected, because it seems to me that racism and xenophobia are rising here and the situation is just getting worse. That's my experience of working in various commissions and committees in the Karlovy Vary region. Their members behave like xenophobes in many cases - I don't understand why they are sitting on the commissions in the first place," Voráč said in an interview for Romea.tv. A video of the interview can be seen in full here: http://www.romea.cz/romeatv/index.php?id=detail&source=t&vid=sm4ME5fL6_A&detail=sm4ME5fL6_A

Two masked, unidentified men attacked a residential hotel in Aš where two Romani families and other people live, throwing at least three Molotov cocktails at it. One bottle hit the window of one of the tenants' rooms, another struck the building's main door, and the third was thrown at the window of a room called the "hall", a common room where all those living in the residential hotel can gather. The residents put out the fire on their own. No one suffered physical injury.

Police are investigating the case as one of racially motivated reckless endangerment. "We have initiated criminal proceedings in this matter for the crime of reckless endangerment and at this moment we cannot rule out that this might have been racially motivated. The perpetrator's motivation is essential for determining the crime irrespective of what the perpetrator actually managed to achieve. We are still performing all necessary investigations and searching for the perpetrators. We have taken the measure of reinforcing police patrols in Aš with police officers from Cheb," Martina Hrušková, spokesperson for the Cheb Police, told news server Romea.cz.

Some of those living in the residential hotel told news server Romea.cz they believe the motivation for the attack could not in any way have been increased criminality on the part of Romani people in the area. Hrušková said that "in the territory of the Aš district division we have noted a slight decline in crime compared to January and February 2011."

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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