Case of verbal assault on Romani children remains unsolved five months later
In mid-June of this year, 30 Romani children were discussing the topic “There has been enough racism” as part of a debating competition organized by the Debate Club Association of the Czech Republic at the Radost recreation center in Horní Jelení. The topic was to become quite significant for the young Romani debaters. On Saturday, 13 June at around 10 PM they were verbally assaulted by several non-Romani youths hanging around the facility. Witnesses said the verbal assaults had a racist subtext. ROMEA reported on the case in the summer; we now return to it in view of recent events.
“The reality that Romani children face every single day is underpinned by a denial of the fact of extremism in the Czech Republic. At the start of the debating meet, there was a pleasant, competitive atmosphere. The summery weather and successful weekend were spoiled for the children when a group of drunken juvenile delinquents showed up on Saturday evening and verbally assaulted the Romani children and their teachers with racist epithets. They also vandalized property in the immediate vicinity of the center where the children were staying,” Jan Müller of the Darjav association said.
Organizers had prepared a “path of courage” for the children to walk in groups of three during the evening. When one trio returned from the path, racist slogans were being shouted by youths sitting nearby. According to the children and the debate club organizers, most of the youths were drunk. “They were yelling slogans like ‘gypsies to the gas’ or ‘get out of here, you black mugs’. There were about 15 of them, most of them boys between 15 and 18, but there were also girls with them,” Müller said. He believes some of the youths who were yelling the xenophobic slurs are (neo)Nazi sympathizers because of the symbols depicted on the back of a jacket one was wearing. However, Müller says the Czech Police took no notice of this fact even though the organizers drew it to their attention. “When we informed the police, one of the officers said to the girl who had noticed the symbol: ‘So go after him and catch him for us.’ At that moment the police really did not behave professionally,” Müller said bitterly, adding that police did not make it to the recreation center until after a third call.
“Criminal charges against an unidentified assailant were filed on the spot,” Mgr. František Valeš told Romea.cz. Valeš is providing the victims with legal aid through the financial support of ROMEA, o. s. The Roma Debate Club organizers also decided to complain to the Regional Directorate of the East Bohemian Police, but Valeš has yet to receive a response on the matter. The complaint was filed due to the organizers’ dissatisfaction with the approach taken by police at the scene and is being investigated by the internal monitoring division of the Czech Republic Police in Pardubice. ‘In this case the law dictates that the investigation must take place within 60 days. During that time it is determined whether police officers committed errors at the scene or not,” East Bohemian Police spokesperson Eva Maturová told Romea.cz.
Staff of the Darjav association also filed criminal charges against an unidentified assailant on 10 August when Jan Müller and one of the other organizers gave official statements to police. The Regional Directorate of the East Bohemian Police says the case is still being investigated. “The file was sent to the state attorney, where the next steps will be decided on. A decision will be made after all the information is collected,” Maturová said. However, not all of the witnesses have been interrogated yet. More witnesses should be called to testify this week, according to Valeš.
The Darjav civic association has been operating since 2002. This was the fourth year of its Roma Debate Club for young Roma. The main aim is to teach Romani youth how to argue correctly and how to promote their own opinions with respect for those of others. In 2007 the Darjav Roma Debate Club was declared the absolute winner out of all of the Roma Debate Clubs in the Czech Republic by the Debate Club Association of the Czech Republic. Last year the Pardubice Roma Debate Club participated in an international tournament in Bulgaria, where they met more than 500 debaters from around the world.
- Czech Agency for Social Inclusion accuses paper of anti-Romani campaign
- Help Romea.cz win support from Vodafone
- Czech Republic and "gypsies" - 1938 vs. 2012
- Czech Republic: Equal Opportunities Party to protest local-level anti-Romani moves
- Czech mayor: Romani people face lynching unless rape suspect taken into custody
- Czech municipality gets tough on Ostrava ghetto residents again
- Czech Republic: Proud Romani students in IT, medicine, and natural sciences
- Prosecutor: Czechs started last year's brawl with Romani people in Rumburk
- Roma Pride 2012 marches through the center of Prague
- Czech Republic: 70 ultra-rightists march on Romani neighborhood
- Czech Republic: Project commemorates postwar Romani labor
- European experts compare experiences working in socially excluded localities