Open letter by nonprofit organizations regarding the neo-Nazi attack on the demonstration in Chomutov
Several nonprofit organizations responded today to the recent unprecedented attack by a group of extremists on a peaceful demonstration against neo-Nazism in Chomutov and the subsequent manipulative statements made by Chomutov Mayor Ivana Řápková (ODS). The letter was sent to Police Commissioner Jiří Vorálek (North Bohemian Regional Police), Chomutov Mayor Ivana Řápková, Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer, and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. The server Romea.cz is publishing the letter in full below.
Jiří Vorálek, Police Commissioner, Policie České republiky – KŘP Severočeského kraje
Ivana Řápková, Mayor of Chomutov
Ivan Langer, Czech Interior Minister
cc: Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister
Police Commissioner, Madame Mayor, Ministers:
In a democratic society it is unacceptable for a demonstration against violence and neo-Nazism to be attacked while police merely observe. However, that is exactly what happened yesterday at the demonstration in Chomutov, part of the chain demonstration initiative DOST ("Enough is Enough"). The demonstration, aimed at drawing attention to growing neo-Nazism and violence and to remember the Romani girl who is a recent burn victim of that violence, was completely unprecedentedly attacked by neo-Nazi activists.
The right to publicly assemble is guaranteed to all irrespective of skin color, ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. If someone wants to peacefully enjoy this right, it is the responsibility of the town to provide security in cooperation with the organizer of the assembly.
The organizer of yesterday's demonstration was in constant contact with the Czech Police commander in an effort to prevent any threat whatsoever to the security of the persons assembled. Despite this, neo-Nazis gathered close by the peaceful demonstration, disrupted it with verbal attacks, and then threw smoke bombs at those who were properly demonstrating. With the assistance of the police, the neo-Nazis were allowed to break the law. The police did not fulfill their paramount obligation, which is to secure public order and safety. Instead, the police assisted an unannounced demonstration by people calling completely openly for human rights to be violated. During the disruption of this peaceful demonstration several crimes have probably been committed, in particular the crime of violating freedom of association and assembly in the sense of Section 238a of the Criminal Code, as well as violation of the law on the right to assembly.
We are also protesting the approach taken by Mayor Řápková, as the highest representative of the town of Chomutov, towards these constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. She has claimed that she has the right to decide who will enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed right to publicly assemble in the town and who will not. The key to her decision will evidently be an "ethnic or racial reason" (as Mayor Řápková said in her declaration of 3. 5. 2009) which has no basis in law. In a democratic society her statement cannot simply be overlooked.
In connection with the above, we demand:
- The North Bohemian Regional Police arrange for the thorough investigation of yesterday's attack on the peaceful demonstration and prosecution of the crimes committed by the neo-Nazi assailants. We further demand an investigation into the action taken by the commander of the police steps which facilitated the repeated verbal and subsequently physical attacks on the peaceful demonstration.
- The Mayor of the town of Chomutov correct the information she has presented concerning the demonstration. We demand she cease her manipulative behavior through the media, the aim of which is to present the Roma as second-class citizens whose demonstrations provoke violence and who therefore deserve to be arbitrarily deprived of this basic political right by the town.
- The Interior Minister, as the official responsible for the fight against extremism, supervise these demands.
- That we be informed as to the fulfillment of these demands within the customary timeframe.
ROMEA, o. s.
Slovo 21, o. s.
Romodrom, o. s.
In Iustitia, o. s.
Cyril Koky, člen Rady vlády pro záležitosti romské komunity
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