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Czech Republic: Convicted violent offender addressed Břeclav gathering

Břeclav, 25.4.2012 18:30, (ROMEA)
Tomáš Skyba making a speech to the assembly in Břeclav, 22 April 2012.

At last Sunday's gathering in Břeclav, officially convened as a demonstration "against violence" and in support of a 15-year-old boy who had been brutally assaulted there by three men, one of the speakers was Tomáš Skyba, a convicted racist violent offender who is also the Vice-Chair of the Workers' Youth (Dělnická mládež - DM). Approximately 2 000 people attended the gathering. The perpetrators of the assault have been identified in the Czech press as having been Romani, but no arrests have been made yet in the case.

Most of the demonstrators ended up holding a rather stormy discussion with Mayor Oldřich Ryšavý (Czech Social Democrats - ČSSD) on the entry stairs to the town hall. A smaller section of the crowd listened to speeches made by right-wing extremists from the DM and Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), who spoke at a podium organized by friends of the 15-year-old boy. A half-hour long compilation of video footage from the demonstration, which quickly transformed into an anti-Romani protest, can be seen here (in Czech only): http://www.romea.cz/romeatv/index.php?id=detail&source=t&vid=fRWRTZa4nRc&detail=fRWRTZa4nRc

Skyba gave a speech to the DM rally. One year ago, the Regional Court in Zlín sentenced him to five years on parole after he kicked a 62-year-old man in the head for no reason and fled the scene, leaving his victim lying unconscious in a pool of blood. At the start of the trial for this offense, Skyba lied to the court, claiming he had not committed the crime. After an hour of questioning, he confessed to it.

Many people witnessed the aggressive assault. "We were choosing food when I saw someone push a man to the ground and then kick him in the head, he stomped on him several times and beat him with an umbrella," one witness said.

Even though Skyba could have been sent to prison for 12 years, he was granted parole. When delivering the verdict, the judge said the suspended sentence was a final warning: "If you ever clash with the law again, the court will not compromise." Skyba already had many offenses tallied against him. He was given a suspended sentence at the age of 17 for assaulting a student from Sri Lanka and has been arrested several times - once at a Workers' Party demonstration, once for drunk driving, and once when patrol officers found him drunkenly breaking the side mirrors of parked cars. The court ordered him to undergo treatment for alcoholism.

The friends of the beaten boy probably shared a podium with Skyba out of sheer naiveté. In a Facebook discussion about little Natálie, the Romani girl who was almost burned to death with her entire family in a 2009 arson attack in Vítkov, Skyba wrote the following: "I'd give her a can of Zyklon B for Christmas."

There is no doubt that the DSSS and its related offshoot, the DM, are a political force in the Czech Republic aimed against immigrants, migrants and refugees. Even though the party has been conducting a hate campaign against migrants for years, the Ukrainian family in Břeclav whose son was injured now serves their interests, because they can exploit his misfortune to foment anti-Romani sentiment.

The DM extremists and neo-Nazis paradoxically made their opinion of foreigners clear at the Břeclav demonstration. As the march returned from the square to the train station, the slogans "Bohemia for the Czechs" and "Nothing but the nation" were chanted several times.

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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