Violence and arrests at anti-Roma marches in the Czech Republic

Anti-Roma marches in the Czech Republic have been marked by the use of tear gas by the police, and it is reported that around 100 people have been arrested.  In Ostrava and Ceske Budejovice demonstrators tried to reach areas with large Roma populations, adding to the tensions.

The upsurge in anti-Roma feeling may partly have been fuelled by an article which has apparently been reproduced widely on extremist websites.  This makes unfounded claims about special privileges granted to the Roma by the Czech welfare system:

Among the lies presented are that Romanies can apply and get a one-off payment of 230,000 crowns, that Romanies directly receive monthly payments for rent from municipalities, and that cities pay for school supplies

This piece describes the effects this kind of propaganda has on the lives of individual Roma.

Last Saturday Štefan Horvát took his three children to the swimming pool. When they went to buy some refreshments at a stand, about eight neo-Nazis, all of whom had attended the anti-Roma march, began to harass them, led by Jindřich Svoboda, who organized one of the recent anti-Roma events there together with Dufek.

Svoboda used a tablet to photograph Horvát and his children from a distance of about five centimeters away, laughing at them the whole time. “They shouted racist insults at us the whole time, ‘black fucks’, ‘Gyppos’, etc. Dufek started to shout that I was the gypsy thief who snitched on him. They evidently wanted to spark an argument. I stayed calm and told them to leave us alone. We went back to the water but the children were terribly afraid and wanted to leave immediately. When the other Romani people there saw we were leaving, they also packed up and left too. The Nazis shouted after all of us derisively. We took an indirect route home, just to be sure they couldn’t follow us,” Horvát said. He intends to file criminal charges over this incident.

Finally, here’s a picture of anti-racist counter-protestors demonstrating in Pizen.