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August 8, 2022



Ten years after the Czech neo-Nazi arson attack on her Romani family, Natálka still suffers from nightmares and pain

17.1.2019 14:44

The year 2019 is one of many significant anniversaries in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, we will also be recalling one very tragic event - the 10th anniversary of the arson attack by four neo-Nazis in Vítkov (Opava district).

On the night of 18 April and early morning hours of 19 April 2009, neo-Nazis used three Molotov cocktails to set fire to the home of a Romani family. Three people who were in the house at the time were injured as a consequence of the blaze.

The most seriously injured person was Natálka, who was not yet two years old. The commercial TV Nova television station has covered how the family are doing today for their "Střepiny" ("Fragments") program.

Natálka will turn 12 years old this year and has undergone dozens of demanding operations while still being in the care of several specialists, but she is also suffering nightmares. She communicates very little with those around her, with the exception of her family.

Anna Siváková, her mother, has not spoken about the attack with her much yet. "If she asks about something, then I do my best to answer her, but it's difficult. Explaining certain things is really hard. It's impossible to explain something like this to her, it just doesn't work, and she is capable of asking a hundred times in a row," the mother says in the interview.

"She asks why they did this to her, or why she has scars, things like that. I'm unable to answer her questions, it's really difficult," Siváková says.

The number of operations the child has undergone is also very difficult to calculate. Her burned skin has needed hundreds of surgeries and daily applications of ointments that are time-consuming.

"The worst were on her mouth," Siváková explains, adding that she used to apply the ointment as the child slept. The demanding care is still ongoing and may never end.

The child's damaged skin is not growing at the same rate as the rest of her body. She is not just suffering physical pain, but is very tired because she does not sleep well, being afraid to fall asleep.

"I ask her if she has dreams, or if she is afraid to fall asleep because she will have a dream, and she says yes, but she doesn't remember what her dreams are. She either doesn't remember or doesn't want to talk about it," Siváková said, adding that her daughter does not fall asleep until daybreak.

Natálka spends her free time almost exclusively in the safety of her home. For the last 10 years her mother has not had a single day off.

Care for a child who has been affected by these kinds of injuries means providing nonstop service. "After the attack, we had to begin taking care of her all over again, as if she were an infant. We had to teach her everything," her mother says.

The attack also had an impact on the girl's three sisters - Kornélia, Kristýna and Pavlína. "My oldest daughter had it the worst, she perceived it all more than the others did. She reproached herself, because she's the older sister, she asked why it didn't happen to her," Siváková says, adding that without her other three girls she would not be able to deal with the demanding care for Natálka.

"They have come to my aid with absolutely everything. They love her very much, they won't let anything happen to her," Anna Siváková says.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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