Police across Central and Eastern Europe investigating online death threats against refugees
News server Wyborcza.pl reports that the Polish Prosecutor-General will be investigating the hateful commentary targeting migrants now turning up in Internet discussion forums. The authors of some posts are proposing, for example, that Syrian refugees all be sent to the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
"Maybe it would work to open Auschwitz again for the migrants and turn the gas on," one wrote. "Restore it and put it back into operation, ideally for migrants from Syria and that area," proposed another beneath photographs of buildings from the former Nazi death factory which have recently been restored for the first time in the museum's history.
"Such reactions outrage me, also as a private citizen," said Polish Prosecutor-General Andrzej Seremet, who emigrated to the United States himself in the 1980s. His office in Warsaw will begin investigating the hateful discussion posts tomorrow.
Investigators will ascertain whether the authors of those posts have committed felony incitement to racist or religiously-motivated hatred or whether they have publicly defamed people because of nationality. If convicted, the authors could face up to two years in prison for the former offense and three for the latter.
Wyborcza.pl reports that combating the authors of these hateful commentaries on the Internet is a priority for Seremet. He has already focused on racists in football hooligan circles and on people who have written anti-Semitic commentaries in Internet forums.
In the past the Polish courts have addressed the case of two men who incited racial hatred against Romani immigrants from Romania on Facebook. They attempted to disrupt a collection for the Romani people being run by a Polish charity organization and threatened to visit the Romani camp with machetes because "The only good Rom is a dead Rom."
One of the men was acquitted, as the court found he had not intended to spark racial hatred. The second, however, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Germany: Police investigate man for celebrating the death of a three-year-old Syrian boy
The Associated Press has reported on an incident in Berlin where police have searched the home of a 26-year-old man who allegedly posted content to Facebook celebrating the death of a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned while traveling from Turkey to Greece. According to a spokesperson for the Berlin Police, law enforcement confiscated the man's computer and two mobile phones yesterday morning from his apartment.
The man is suspected of "defaming the memory of the deceased and inciting hatred". Should he be convicted, he will face up to three years in prison.
Czech Republic: Woman who spread lies about refugees will not be punished
Police in the Czech Republic have also investigated hateful commentary posted to Facebook at the beginning of August after media reported that 80 migrants had been arrested on the D5 highway. Those discussing the news online said it would be best to shoot the refugees or send them "to the gas chambers".
Czech news server iDNES.cz reported that the hateful commentaries included statements such as "Shoot them all...", or "A bullet for every man, woman and child...".
Police also investigated a 74-year-old woman who posted a fabricated report in mid-July to Facebook alleging that in the village of Lidéřovice near the Austrian border a group of Arab refugees had cut the throats of livestock and that police had arrested 90 migrants at the farm. The woman faced up to two years in prison if convicted.
State Prosecutr Yvetta Švecová, however, decided not to prosecute. She has declined to explain her decision to the media.
Many hateful, racist posts turn up beneath online news articles in the Czech Republic that are about refugees or Romani people. Sometimes Czech media outlets themselves incite such posts.
The Prostějovský večerník (Prostějov Evening News) has unleashed racist online discussions against Romani people, for example. All it took was a few lines of text about a Romani woman who alleged received "an unbelievable CZK 51 000 every month from the state for four children who aren't even hers!"
Such hateful, frequently repulsive commentaries being posted by self-identified "decent Czechs" about refugees or Roma are being captured for posterity and exhibited, for example, on the Facebook page of a group called Obludárium ("Freak Show"). For example, online commentator Michal Krejčí wrote the following after the recent discovery of a truck with 71 dead refugees, including children, inside: "We've been spared paying more taxes. Too bad there weren't 71 000 of them."
The Yeseter Now company has recently produced an analysis of online hatred in the Czech Republic for HateFree Culture, a Government campaign. It found that most of the hateful posts on Czech Internet and social networking sites are about refugees.
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