Nazi hunters tell Czech minister Romany unrest test for Prague
The Simon Wiesentahl Centre said today its director for international relations Shimon Samuels has written to Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer that reaction to the recent and planned extremists' clashes in Litvinov will be a test for his country ahead of its forthcoming EU presidency.
The Czech Republic will take over EU presidency from France on January 1, 2009.
Litvinov, north Bohemia, was the venue of sharp clashes between the police and radical extremists who were marching on the Janov housing estate that is inhabited mainly by Romanies.
Sixteen people were injured in the clashes.
The extremists, mainly the Workers' Party (DS) that Langer wants to outlaw after the Litvinov events on November 17, have announced further planned actions in Litvinov.
Samuels wrote to Langer that "all Czechs are children or grand-children of the victims of totalitarian regimes, communism and Nazism" and that it is not understandable that a minority, this time Romanies, is again becoming the target of attacks.
Wiesenthal's centre recommends to Langer that the Litvinov events should be included in lessons at schools and at police academies.
Samuels wrote to Langer that his reaction to the planned Litvinov pogrom is "a litmus test that will set the tone of the struggle against racism during Czech EU presidency."
Samuels several times cited Czech Prima television's alleged claims that professional soldiers and policemen were among the radicals in Litvinov.
He writes that this is clear not only from that the neo-Nazis used military explosives, but also combat tactics.
Samuels quoted alleged words by a Prima reporter according to whom it was evident form helicopter pictures tha't about 20-strong groups were fighting simultaneously at several places and had at their disposal military explosives used in military and police training.
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