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Czech Republic: Romani activist gets threatening e-mails, swastika graffiti on front door

Plzeň, 10.1.2012 17:07, (ROMEA)

The front door to the apartment building in the Přední Skvrňany neighborhood of Plzeň where Romani activist Ivan Koky lives was spray-painted with a red swastika on Sunday evening. Koky is convinced the incident is related to his activities for the "Amare čhave" organization, which he founded two years ago. The organization aims to support the social integration of Romani people and organizes sports activities for children, among other events.

"I have been receiving e-mail threats for six months, but this is too much. I will take action once I get hold of whoever did this. I don't intend to wait for someone to start threatening my children, my family," Koky told the Plzeň edition of deník.cz.

Koky has turned the e-mails, which included racist slurs and threats, over to police. In the messages, the author even threatens to "cut off the heads of gypsies" . Koky received the most recent e-mail in the series last week.

"I filed criminal charges with the police and it ended there. The police have not contacted me since. Now I have a swastika on my door," Koky said.

Police spokesperson Simona Čejková said police are investigating the case. "Three entrances on Jakub Škarda street were spray-painted. We will not be providing any more information on the case at this time," Čejková said.

Koky claims that on Sunday evening the Nazi symbol was on the door to his building only and that someone must have spray-painted the other buildings later. "The swastika turned up on the door on Sunday at around 7:30 in the evening. I had walked past my building a half an hour earlier and the doors were clean," Koky says. He is convinced the graffiti is related to the threatening e-mails he has been receiving.

In those messages, the writer has told Koky that he knows he has complained to police. "I don't know where he got that information, it wasn't published anywhere," Koky says, adding that he does not trust the state security forces. He reportedly does not suspect anyone in particular and makes no secret of the fact that other members of the Romani community have expressed their support for him and will stand by him in the event of future attacks. "If anyone touches my children, I will take action. I am not afraid for myself, but I am afraid for my family," Koky said.

Robert Houdek (ODS), the town councilor responsible for security, does not believe the situation will result in cases similar to those in North Bohemia and the Šluknov district. "We are a different region with a different history," Houdek said.

The councilor believes the owner of the building should remove the swastika. "I will look into the case, and if further indications turn up we will press charges through the municipal police," Houdek declared, adding that investigation of the case is a police matter. "It is probably difficult for them to catch someone in the act of spray-painting a Nazi symbol, but an e-mail address should theoretically be traceable," Houdek said.

Gwendolyn Albert, Jitka Votavová, voj, Plzeňskýdeník.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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