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Janáčková apologizes, Bedřiška to become self-administrating

Ostrava, 26.3.2010 15:59, (ROMEA)

Czech Senator Liana Janáčková, who is also the Mayor of the “Mariánské Hory a Hulváky” district of Ostrava, apologized Thursday for her statements regarding the Podraný family. An unidentified arsonist recently threw a Molotov cocktail into the family’s home.

Janáčková visited the Bedřiška settlement on Thursday for the first time since the attack and met with Dušan Podraný. “Ms Janáčková came to our home to apologize, but I told her she must make a public apology in front of the press, because her slander of us was done publicly,” Podraný told Romea.cz. In her previous statements, Janáčková revealed personal information about the Podraný family to which she was privy in her role as mayor, insinuating that the family themselves had thrown the Molotov cocktail into their own apartment because they were allegedly planning to emigrate and needed proof they were being discriminated against.

The mayor is now downplaying the statements she sent to the media last week. “That was an unnecessary media bubble,” she said after meeting with the Podraný family. When asked by journalists whether she apologized for her statements, she turned to Mr Podraný and said: “Dušan, I apologize to you all,” according to news server Novinky.cz. She then gave him a kiss on the cheek. “They say I am a racist, but that is not true. We are all the same race,” she couldn’t resist adding.

However, on 15 August 2006, Janáčková proudly declared she was a racist at a public meeting of her district’s housing division when discussing complaints that Roma from elsewhere Ostrava had moved there. At the time she literally said: “I understand it’s not fair to you all, but I really do not have anywhere else to put those Gypsies unless I get some dynamite and blow them up… I do not agree with integrating Gypsies around the district, unfortunately I am a racist. We picked Bedřiška, so that is where they will be, with a high fence, an electric one for all I care… I’ll tell the whole world that.”

Novinky.cz reported Dušan Podraný as saying he had nothing against Janáčková after meeting with her: “It’s settled, I don’t really have anything against the mayor.” Janáčková agreed with the residents of Bedřiška that they should become self-administrating. She also promised to send several containers to the settlement for spring cleaning. Local Roma filled up a first container before noon.

Kumar Vishwanathan, whose idea it was for Bedřiška to become self-administrating, told Romea.cz that his civic association Life Together is based on such principles: “We set up a council comprised of local people, for example, in the temporary housing in Hrušov after the floods, and in the Co-Existence Village.” In his view it will be a surprise to Janáčková that local ethnic Czechs and Roma who want to solve problems together have joined forces at Bedřiška. “I am glad the town hall is open to the idea, because without their cooperation the self-administration cannot function properly,” he said. When asked whether he believes Janáčková will really begin to cooperate with the people in Bedřiška to the benefit of both sides, Vishwanathan said: “We are ready to be surprised”.

Dušan Podraný says the town hall should cooperate with a local administration in Bedřiška to repair the homes there. Podraný has not yet decided whether he will run for office. “I will decide after debating it with the others,” he told Romea.cz. The self-administration council will be established in Bedřiška at a meeting of all residents on Saturday 27 March. ”Something needs to be done here. There are about 100 children living in Bedřiška with no place to play. Since there is no other appropriate meeting place, even the meeting on Saturday will have to take place in the street,” Vishwanathan told Novinky.cz.

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, František Kostlán, Novinky.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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