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February 28, 2020
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Another wall separating Roma from non-Roma planned in Slovakia

Bratislava, 21.5.2011 14:42, (ROMEA)

Yet another wall is evidently being planned in Slovakia to separate the Roma community from other nearby residents. The town of Vrútky in the north of the country wants to resolve tension between local Roma and non-Roma living in neighboring housing units. Similar constructions have grown up in many towns and villages, particularly in the east of the country.

"We will build a new concrete fence between the nursery school and the Roma community and another near the housing units to eliminate noise and reduce the nervousness of the people living there," the Slovak daily Pravda quoted Milan Mazúr, chief magistrate of the town, as saying. He is not concerned about criticism over separating citizens from one another. "This is not segregation. The citizens demanded this for their own security," he said.

The daily reports that more Roma people started residing on one of the town's streets after housing units once used for railway workers near the local railway station were torn down. In the new locality more than 200 people are now cooped up in about five cottages and three one-room temporary construction shelters. "It's a problematic place where Roma from other parts of the republic are grouped together, particularly from the east," Mazúr noted.

Other housing units, the nursery school, and the retirement home are all located adjacent to the locality. Many retirees have complained that the Roma foul up the street beneath their windows or spit and swear at them. The Roma community has criticized the prepared construction of the two-meter high wall.

Similar walls, which Roma organizations have previously labeled a manifestation of segregation, have grown up in the villages of Ostrovany, Lomnička, Šečovce, Trebišov, and Michalovec. Several hundred thousand Roma people are estimated to live in Slovakia, but only some of them have officially registered their ethnicity. Slovakia has not yet managed to cope with settlements where many Roma people live in disadvantageous hygienic conditions.

In the Czech Republic the most famous case of a wall being erected with the aim of separating Roma people from other residents occurred in 1999 with the construction of a concrete fence in a quarter of Ústí nad Labem. The construction was removed after six weeks under pressure from the Government and after protests by Czech and foreign international human rights defenders.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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