More attacks by skinheads in Slovakia
12 April 2000
Attacks by racist skinheads on Roma have recently been reported in Slovakia. Pravda reported on October 21, 1999, that three skinheads had beaten a 20-year-old Romani man named Jozef Polák from the village of Čar at a busstop near Bratislava’s main train station. The three men reportedly kicked him and beat him with their fists until he lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness he reported the attack to the rail police at the train station and was transported to a hospital. He was diagnosed with injuries requiring seven days recovery. Pravda reported on October 29 that in connection with the attack, police had charged Mr Ján M. (b. 1982), Mr Michal K. (b. 1983) and Mr Andrej S. (b. 1983) with disturbing the peace and racially motivated damage to health. According to the Slovak Helsinki Committee, investigation was still open as of March 30, 2000. In an incident that is presumed to be unrelated, according to a Pravda article of December 27, 1999, an unnamed skinhead in Čar assaulted a 21-year-old Romani man named Marian D., on December 17, punching him in the face. Roma in the village then gathered in a local pub with chains and knives and assaulted the alleged skinhead attacker and an individual sitting next to him in the pub. At a subsequent meeting, Roma from Čar told the mayor that youths in the village regularly appear near their houses, threaten them and shout slogans such as “Heil Hitler” and “Gypsies to the gas”. According to an article in Pravda from December 28, Police Spokesperson Ludovít Zapletaj described the incident as one of “youthful imprudence” and ruled out a racial motive. As of March 30, 2000, police were investigating seven Romani men on charges of damage to health and rioting.
In another incident, according to the Slovak daily Pravda, four unknown persons armed with baseball bats attacked Roma in a bar in the eastern Slovak town of Velké Kapušany on Saturday, February 20, 2000. Two of the Roma — 33-year-old M.K. and 27-year-old D.A. — sustained injuries requiring three weeks recovery. On February 21, an investigation was already open. “Whether or not racial animus was involved is not known,” wrote Pravda. According to Romani activist Emilia Pompová of the organisation Zor in Kežmarok, Zor receives reports of skinhead attacks on Roma from the town of Poprad on a weekly basis. According to an article appearing in Národná Obroda on December 16, 1999, police managed to register only fifteen and resolve only eleven racially motivated crimes nation-wide during 1999. Police appear either to be applying an unreasonably rigid standard for what constitutes racially motivated crime, to be ignoring reports, or not to be proactively engaged in investigating racially motivated crimes among the terrorised Romani community. Attacks by racist skinheads on Roma in Slovakia and the failure of the state to protect Roma or to provide legal remedy in racist abuse cases is the subject of the 1997 ERRC country report, Time of the Skinheads: Denial and Exclusion of Roma in Slovakia.
In other news from Slovakia, the daily Sme reported on March 9, 2000, that non-Romani residents of the western Slovak town of Hlohovec had gathered signatures on a petition to oppose plans by municipal authorities to move Roma into a house in a predominantly non-Romani neighbourhood. One of the initiators of the petition told Sme, “If the city does not desist, we are prepared to destroy the house ourselves.” Hlohovec Mayor Ján Brezovský refused to comment to Sme on grounds that the issue had been submitted to a local housing committee and was in the process of being resolved. The ERRC is considering the possibility of legal action in the case.
(ERRC, Národná Obroda, Pravda, Slovak Helsinki Committee, Sme, Zor)