Friday, April 24, 2009


Czech Roma anger at arson attack

The Roma (Gypsy) minority in the Czech Republic has called for nationwide protests following an arson attack that left a two-year-old girl in hospital.

On Saturday a house was set on fire in the eastern Czech village of Vitkov, leaving the girl with 80% burns. Her parents were also injured in the blaze.

Roma groups have also offered a reward for information about the attack. Police suspect right-wing extremists.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus described the fire as a "heinous crime".

Ivan Vesely, deputy head of the government council for Romany community affairs, said the demonstrations would be staged in 10 to 15 towns and cities across the country on 3 May, including Prague and Usti nad Labem, where neo-Nazis staged a march last weekend.

Both the girl, who is called Natalka, and her parents are said to be in a critical condition in a hospital in the near Vitkov, about 300km (190 miles) east of Prague.

The Czech Republic's largely impoverished 300,000-strong Roma population has repeatedly complained of endemic racial discrimination.

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