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ROMEA: Politicians, break your silence!

Prague, 23.10.2008 10:20, (ROMEA)

We are deeply distressed by the silence following the demonstration on Saturday by members of Národní odpor ("National Resistance") and the Dělnická strana ("Workers' Party") in Litvínov. From the very beginning, the unannounced gathering targeted the Romani minority living at the Janov housing estate. The concerns of those living there were completely justified. They had already experienced one provocation by members of the extremist DS on 4 October 2008, when the party's "Protection Corps" walked through the streets of Janov. In the media we saw clips of Roma holding baseball bats, which naturally prompted mixed feelings from the public. However, the Roma had received no assurances either from politicians or police that their safety would be protected, so it was unfortunately completely logical that they decided to take care of their own safety and that of their families.

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WE ARE CALLING ON ALL ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS TO JOIN US IN THE FIGHT AGAINST NEO-NAZISM!
Write to us at
romea@romea.cz.

Tense provocations by extremist groups, led by the DS, have been happening more frequently in recent months. The Roma feel insecure and are concerned for their safety. Are we returning to the atmosphere of the second half of the 1990s, when as many as 20 people were murdered here for racist reasons, the vast majority of them Roma? We believe Czech politicians, especially those responsible for security and protecting citizens' human rights, should not be silent now. We are shocked that they are.

The unannounced demonstration by the DS in Litvínov was expected. The security forces had to have known about both it and the concerns of local Roma. This time the Roma chose the path of peace and armed themselves with signs. Slogans like "Stop Nazism", "Czechs are for the Roma", "Now who needs home defense?", "It's been 63 years, no return of the SS patrols" and others were a clear indication of their hope that the police would protect them and that they would not themselves have to take up something else to protect their children. We understand that the ongoing elections were more important for politicians at that precise moment than the threat to one particular group in Litvínov was. However, we simply do not understand the deathly silence after the demonstration, even after the television reports of attacks on journalists, police officers, and the mayor. Why is the Interior Minister silent, why is he not making a public statement to reassure the citizens of that town - whose residences have been attacked for the second time now - that he will investigate the approach taken by the security forces and take the necessary steps? Recently he said it would not be much time before "the last straw" would occur and the proposal to abolish these extremist groups would be acted on. What is going to be the "last straw" - the hospitalization of a mayor, the murder of a police officer, a Rom with broken ribs, a neo-Nazi killed by a Rom defending himself?

We remember Interior Minister Ivan Langer labeling the Roma who had emigrated to Canada as acting "irresponsibly" towards the rest of Czech society due to the threat of the visa obligation being reintroduced. Now many other Roma face repeated concerns about the safety of their families. It is high time for the Interior Ministry to take responsibility. The command of the police intervention that made it possible for armed neo-Nazis to make it into the center of Litvínov must be investigated. In the ensuing panic, the Roma exchanged their placards for sticks. Is that surprising? Were not their human rights being threatened at that moment? Why is Human Rights and Minorities Minister Džamila Stehlíková silent? Why is PM Mirek Topolánek silent? What else has to happen for them to take this situation seriously? More murders, tension, racial unrest? If this silence on the part of politicians continues, if the police keep making such mistakes, we can expect that all and more, soon. That would not be the best path for a society that is supposed to be a democracy for all.

ROMEA, o. s. and the organizations and individuals listed below call on PM Mirek Topolánek, Interior Minister Ivan Langer and Human Rights and Minorities Minister Džamila Stehlíková to start seriously addressing this situation, to stop maintaining silence about it, and to start dissolving the Dělnická strana!

ROMEA

THIS DECLARATION IS SUPPORTED BY
Slovo 21, o. s.
Liga proti antisemitismu
Romodrom, o. s.
Dženo, o.s .
Občanské sružení Přátel Milovic
Gwendolyn Albert
Jana Tatíčková
Liberecké romské sdružení, o.s.
Jarmila Kuchárová
Natálie Landová, DiS.
Občanské sdružení Manuš

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Czech republic, Janov, Extremism, Neo-Nazism



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