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Freedom Not Fear press release: We support the counter-demonstrations against neo-Nazi provocations in Nový Bydžov

Prague, 10.3.2011 20:09, (FNF)

Freedom Not Fear has issued the following press release:

On Saturday, 12 March, another attempt by neo-Nazis to take advantage of the tense atmosphere between the Roma minority and the majority society is expected, this time in Nový Bydžov. The worst-case scenario would be another attempt at a pogrom similar to the one that played itself out three years ago at the Janov housing estate in Litvínov.

The Freedom not Fear Initiative supports all counter-demonstrations against neo-Nazi provocations, be that the call issued by Anti-fascist Solidarity or by the Nový Bydžov is not alone! Initiative. We also support the local Roma who will be prepared to defend their homes. Applying the principles of collective blame and racism can do nothing to improve the situation in Nový Bydžov.

"Almost everyone who sticks out in a crowd, whether because of their ethnic origin or because they endorse a particular subculture, has encountered racist violence. The opportunity is presenting itself in Nový Bydžov to express a clear 'No' to violent Nazis who only know who to spread aggression and hatred," says Freedom Not Fear Initiative spokesperson Jan Němec. "It is hard to expect some sort of solution from them," he adds.

Since its founding in 2008, Freedom not Fear has drawn attention to the issue of social exclusion. One of the first issues to which the initiative responded was a repressive plan against Prague's homeless people, revived by city hall last year through an infamous proposal to build camps for homeless people next to garbage dumps and waste incineration plants. This example makes it clear that leading politicians have more in common with the neo-Nazis than it might seem at first glance - the politicians just manage to serve up their "Final Solutions" in more acceptable forms, with the suave smiles of well-dressed professionals. However, it is not just neo-Nazis and politicians who spread hatred - such attitudes unfortunately resonate with the opinion of most of the country, whether expressed softly or loudly. Attacks and ridicule against Roma people, the poor, or others who are weak are starting to become a generally accepted norm in "decent" society.

The problem of excluded localities is related to another hidden process which has been taking place in Czech society for many years: Gentrification. The effort to increase the real estate value of lucrative parts of cities and towns has caused the systematic eviction of residents, the disruption of social ties, and the total transformation of some neighborhoods. The evicted residents are pushed into localities with cheaper accommodation, where the vast majority of people also suffer from high unemployment. The rise in profits in lucrative city centers is accompanied by a transfer of economic losses to poor towns. In the final analysis, the process of gentrification can be compared to a more sophisticated practice of the displacement implemented by Nazi Germany. The primitive actions of the neo-Nazis also tell us more about the current functioning of socioeconomic mechanisms than it might seem at first glance.

"If there is not a fundamental restriction of the growth of the real estate mafia at local level and of fundamentalist capitalism at the nationwide level, it is completely logical that excluded localities will continue to grow, as will conflicts. It is just a matter of time before the first deaths will occur," Jan Němec says.

We can take advantage of the attempted provocation in Nový Bydžov to hold a counter-action which will face down the neo-Nazis, just as the Nazis were posthumously humiliated in Dresden in February when the anti-fascists stood up to the neo-Nazis and outnumbered them. It really depends on each one of us how this Saturday in Nový Bydžov turns out.

The Freedom not Fear Initiative was created in 2008 in response to the repressive policies of Prague City Hall. The initiative revived the traditional DIY Carnival of Czech free techno-culture, which takes place in the streets of Prague. In September 2009 the initiative was a co-organizer of "Inadaptability Week" (Týden nepřizpůsobivosti), during which demonstrators occupied a derelict house in the Albertov neighborhood of Prague.

Last year's Carnival, which traveled through the center of Prague at the start of October, once again drew attention to the polarization of society: "We perceive how ideology, supported by the media houses, nimbly gets into the blood of society. Few today are startled at all by the fact that more and more people are exiting the tribunal of the marketplace with bowed heads, that they must immediately leave society and be cleared away to a 'safe' distance as 'social cases', homeless people or 'Gypsies' - on the outskirts of towns, in the ghettos or other oases."

Gwendolyn Albert, FNF, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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