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Roma in Vsetín, Czech Republic under attack, ROMEA facilitating their legal aid

Vsetín, 16.6.2011 3:30, (ROMEA)

Vulgar curses, apartment doors kicked in, destroyed mailboxes. Romani families living in a building on Pod Pecníkem street in Vsetín have been experiencing similar attacks in recent weeks, the daily Valašský deník reports.

"The attacks have been going on for more than a month and take place at night. We've called police, but the attackers always manage to run away," one of the Romani men living in the building said. He did not want to give his name out of fear of retaliation.

The owner of the building, Bohumil Slavík, is convinced the nighttime attacks are racially motivated. "Not only Romani people live in the building, 'white' families live there too, but when only the mailboxes with Romani names have been deliberately punctured, what else am I to believe?" Slavík said.

According to the available information, the small group of assailants is comprised of three or four young men. "They're probably going to the pub Pod Pecníkem, which is not far from here. When they walk back at night, most often on Fridays, they destroy the fittings of the building and challenge the Romani people to come out of their apartments using vulgar language," Slavík said.

"The Romani tenants are afraid," he said, adding that for the time being there has only been property damage. "Once someone gets injured it will be too late."

Lenka Javorková, spokesperson for the Vsetín Police, confirmed detectives know about the disorder in Pod Pecníkem street. "We are still investigating those cases," she assured us.

The Romea association has offered Slavík and his Romani tenants legal aid as part of a project to map and publicize cases of hate violence. The full article (in Czech only) can be read at: http://valassky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/romove-se-boji-nocnich-utoku20110614.html

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, Valašský deník, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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