More violence against Roma in the Czech Republic
15 August 2001
The Czech television station Channel 1 reported on May 14, 2001, that on the previous evening, May 13, a Romani man and a Finnish man had been attacked in the western Czech town of Cheb during the celebrations attending the Czech ice hockey team’s victory in the world championship. Mr Bartoloměj Lukáč, a Romani man, was beaten unconscious in the attack and suffered severe concussion as well as other injuries;both Mr Lukáč and the Finnish man required two days of hospital treatment. The Czech daily newspaper Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on May 21, 2001, that authorities were unwilling to view the violence as racially motivated, and were instead considering the attack a result of general aggressiveness attending the sporting event.
In a further incident of violence, the Czech daily newspaper Právo of April 24, 2001, reported that on April 20, 2001, about forty-five skinheads attacked a group of approximately twenty Romani men with baseball bats, chairs and other such weapons in the Krušovice disco in the town of Nový Bor in northern Czech Republic. Eight Roma were injured in the attack, but the paper reported that no one had been charged with any crime in connection with the attack. According to Právo, the group of mainly Czech and German neo-Nazis had gathered to celebrate Hitler’s birthday.
In another racist attack in the Czech Republic, on April 21, 2001, a group of skinheads attacked a flat in the northern Moravian Czech town of Opava in the mistaken belief that a Romani family was living there, according to ERRC field research. According to an ERRC interview with the Czech woman living in the flat, Ms Helena V., Ms V. saw a group of approximately ten young men in the street outside her flat shouting statements such as “Czech lands for Czech people” and “Gypsies to the gas” at about half past midnight on April 21. Ms V. stated that one of the men climbed up the house to the first floor and smashed one of the windows of her flat with an iron chain and ball. A Romani family had previously occupied the flat but had recently moved away. According to the regional newspaper Svoboda, one suspect was arrested shortly after the attack and a police spokesman confirmed that the case was under investigation. Ms Vlastimila Pernicová, the Romani advisor to the District Government Office, informed the ERRC on April 30, 2001, that skinheads had broken windows of flats inhabited by Roma in 1999 and 2000 in other incidents in Opava. Mr Rene Černohorský, the police spokesman for the District Police in Opava, told the ERRC in an interview on April 30, 2001, that between 1996 and 1998, the police had registered twenty racially motivated attacks in the town, three such incidents in 1999 and three such incidents in 2000.
(Channel 1, ERRC, KSORN, Mladá Fronta Dnes, Právo, Svoboda)