Skinhead violence against Roma in the Czech Republic
11 July 2000
Czech media and Europe Roma, an organisation for Romani asylum seekers in the UK, reported that on the evening of May 2, 2000, two men attacked and severely injured a married Romani couple who were walking in Lazecká Street in the north-eastern Czech town of Orlová with their young daughter and son. The attackers, who were wearing black balaclavas, reportedly brutally and repeatedly struck the man, Mr Ladislav P., and his wife, Mrs R.P., with a baseball bat and shouted racist slogans. According to the woman, the attackers shouted "shut up you black swine" to her. There were at least two witnesses to the attack: the five-year-old daughter of the victims, and the eleven-year-old son of Ladislav P. Ladislav P. reportedly suffered lacerations and contusions to his head, broken arms, and contusions to his left side. Mrs R.P.'s kneecap was broken. Both of the victims were treated at the hospital and sent home after surgery. A spokesperson for the Ostrava police told the ERRC on August 1, that on June 19, two unnamed suspects had been charged with rioting, aggravated bodily harm, and coercion. Police were not applying penal code provisions on racially motivated crime. The two suspects had not been detained as of August 1.
A Romani man from Orlová, Mr Mirek K., told the ERRC that on the same day, May 2, 2000, a group of five people - four men and one woman - two of whom were masked, shot at Romani children in the Orlová neighbourhood of Kopanina. According to other witnesses, before the attack, a group of five skinheads, four men and one women, passed through the neighbourhood in a new red Ford Escort and broke the back window of a car owned by the Romani man Mr Zdeněk Z. They then proceeded until they found two Roma, who ran away, and they destroyed the bicycle left behind by one of them. More recently, it was reported to the ERRC on June 8, 2000, that several days previously, an eighteen-year-old Romani woman named P.R. was attacked by three skinheads and lost consciousness at 2:15 P.M. at the petrol station "The Cross" in Orlová. This petrol station is located in the center of town, near the police station. Ms P.R. refused to file a complaint as, she says, she is afraid she will be attacked again.
In another incident, on February 5, 2000, at 1:30 AM, a large group of skinheads allegedly attacked a group of five Roma and one non-Romani man in a bar in the eastern Czech town of Náchod. Romani Advisor to the District Government Office in Náchod and witness to the attack, Ms Gabriela Farkašová, informed the ERRC that the attack began five minutes after the group of Roma arrived, when approximately fifteen skinheads, uniformed in black jackets, white shirts, dark trousers and boots, rushed into the bar. Several among them shouted racist insults including "you black swine". Some of the guests in the bar reportedly also shouted "Blacks must not come in here". Then the skinheads began to attack the group physically. Mr Pavel Vyskočil, the non-Romani man in the group, reportedly received the worst beating: six skinheads punched him in the head, breaking one of his teeth. Mr Vyskočil obtained a medical report documenting his injuries, which he gave to the police.
During the fight, Ms Farkašová managed to escape and call the police, who arrived shortly thereafter. The Roma pointed out the worst of the attackers, but police allegedly did not detain the skinheads nor even register their identities at that time. On the same night, Mr Farkaš, the husband of Ms Farkašová, and a relative filed a complaint at the police station and in the following days, all of the victims testified about the incident to the police. The police asked them to point out the attackers from among local skinheads and all of the victims recognised only one of them, the main instigator of the attack. Ms Farkašová informed the ERRC that the majority of the skinheads involved in the attack were not local, and that the police did not show the victims photos of any non-local skinheads. The police refused to give copies of the protocols to the victims. They promised to send a copy of the accusation to Ms Farkašová but as of June 22, 2000, they had not done so. A local police officer informed the ERRC on February 29, 2000, that the attack is being treated as a pub fight rather than a racial attack. Mr Souček, in charge of investigating the case, informed the ERRC that as of February 29, one of the attackers had been accused of rioting. Officials stated that there was no evidence indicating a racially motivated attack. As of August 1, investigation was reportedly still open.
Another case of violence against Roma occurred in January. According to Mr Vladimír Budík, director of the investigations office of the western Czech town of Karlovy Vary, on January 11, 2000, at about 10:45 PM, three people attacked and injured a group of five Roma from the town of Nejdek as they left the restaurant Trend Club Meteor. The attackers kicked the Roma and shouted repeatedly "you black swine." Four of the Roma were injured; two required surgery and two received medical confirmation of inability to work for a period of longer than seven days. On February 24, 2000, the three attackers were indicted for rioting under Criminal Code Article 202(1), defamation of race, nation, or opinion under Article 198(1), and aggravated bodily harm under Article 221. According to Mr Budík, in his March 14, 2000 response to an inquiry sent by the ERRC, none of the accused has been convicted of racially motivated crime in the past. The accused have not been detained and the investigation was still open as of April 24. Mr Budík stated that the attack was the only case of a racially motivated crime investigated by his office in 2000. On August 1, a state attorney refused to provide the ERRC with further information about the case.
(ERRC, Mladá Fronta Dnes, Europe Roma)