Slovakia: Romani people protest against Fascists in the east
Supporters of the "People's Party Our Slovakia" (ĽSNS) and those opposed to right-wing extremism encountered each other last week in Sabinov during an election rally. Approximately 350 Romani residents of the district arrived at the rally to express their disagreement with the party's extremism.
Members of a coalition of parties not seated in Parliament, Progressive Slovakia and Together (PS&Spolu), also joined the protest gathering. Both the protest and rally proceeded without any incidents, although people from each side shouted at each other.
Marian Kotleba, chair of the ĽSNS, addressed the rally of about 200 supporters from the podium, as did party spokesperson Ondrej Ďurica, Slovak MP Ján Kecskés, and former Slovak MP Milan Mazurek. On the basis of a memorandum signed with other political parties, the chair of the Christian Democratic Alliance (KDŽP Aliance ze Slovenska), Tomáš Taraba, also gave a speech to the ĽSNS supporters.
Civic activist Ladislav Duda said protesters were there because "We disagree with Fascism in Slovakia... We don't want Fascists either in the Government or in Slovakia as such."
"They won 11 % of the vote in this town and that's enough. We must express ourselves on this issue, we can't just stand by and watch this," the activist said, adding that people from Christian organizations active in the region were among the protesters.
While Duda did concede that some localities in Slovakia are problematic, he emphasized that it is not possible to make generalizations about Romani people and pointed out that the crime rate in Sabinov is low. Approximately 50 people supporting the PS&Spolu coalition also turned out to express their disagreement with the ĽSNS and its politics.
"We've come to show people that hate and populist speeches actually will change nothing," PS&Spolu coalition leader Michal Truban said. "We all have the same problems, but it will be of no aid just to yell about them."
"It's necessary to have a civil, constructive debate and mainly, as I said, hate genuinely resolves nothing," Truban said. According to Ďurica, rallies are a common component of the party's election campaign.
"We are holding many meetings with the citizens and as far as protests go, or protesters, naturally we perceive this and we respect it," he said. "Anybody has the right to express an opinion if it is done civilly and does not disrupt our properly announced and permitted rally."
"We see that as part of democracy, of the political battle, so it's in order," Ďurica said, adding that in different towns they have encountered mostly small groups of protesters. The ĽSNS spokesperson also rejected the idea that the rally had been organized in Sabinov because Jewish people had been deported from there during WWII.
The Oscar-winning Czechoslovak film "The Shop on Main Street" (Obchod na korze) was made in Sabinov in 1965. "Last year, as part of our campaign, we held approximately 113 rallies," the ĽSNS spokesperson said.
"This is not actually aimed at any specific location and it is not related to a specific date," Ďurica said. Another protest against the ĽSNS was scheduled last week in Košice, called "Let's Stand Up against Hate and Extremism".
- Slovak President Čaputová awards Romani doctor and human rights activist with state honors
- Czech-Slovak co-production of TV singing contest to feature Romani celebrity on the jury
- For a third time, Slovak court acquits police of brutalizing Romani children a decade ago, prosecutor appealing
- Slovakia ahead of elections: Romani candidate suing fascists for defamation
- UK: Anti-fascists, Roma, students thwart planned meeting of Slovak fascists in London
- LIVE BROADCAST TODAY AT 19:00 CET: "Light in the Darkness" - Romani community gives awards in Slovakia
- Slovakia: Ultra-right calls for "asocials" to be sent to labor camps, police investigating
- European Parliamentary delegation plans to visit Romani settlements in Slovakia
- Slovakia: Café Európa discusses underrepresentation of Romani people in politics
- International Romani amateur boxing match won by team from Slovakia
- Slovak town bans demonstration by fascists out of respect for Holocaust victims
- Slovak bus company caught on video repeatedly denying some Romani passengers service
- Slovak Government says new data show quality of life for Roma is gradually improving
- Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová has breakfast with Romani students
- Slovak MP insulted Romani people and spread xenophobia, loses his seat after being convicted of felony defamation
- Slovak Fascists want to change laws about online media to prevent libel
- European Roma Rights Centre gives legal aid to victims alleging Slovak police brutality
- Slovak Government apologizes for anti-Jewish measures during WWII
- LIVE AT 16:00 CET: Pope Francis meets Romani people at Košice's Luník IX housing estate in Slovakia
- Romani runner in Slovakia whose junior career has been so hopeful confirms she is pregnant
- Analysis: Welfare abuse in the Czech Republic is minimal, but in the runup to elections, politicians talk tough about it
- Slovakia: Drunken, knife-wielding man threatens to kill Romani children for being in a park and is now in custody
- Romani-inhabited housing estate Luník IX in Slovakia sees start of local vaccinations against COVID-19
- Romani women and children in Slovakia assaulted physically and verbally by stranger at a lake
- Assembly against discrimination and racism in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic attended mostly by Romani people
- Slovak Government apologizes to Romani community for brutal police raid in 2013
- Slovak Govt Plenipotentiary for the Roma Community says biased media coverage of animal abuse could spark anti-Romani hatred
- Slovak Ombudswoman and NGOs appeal to Government to compensate illegally sterilized people
- Czech town cancels commission for container housing as too costly - which local opposition politicians have argued all along