Monday, June 27, 2011
Czech MEP Březina supports Romani residents in Přerov gathering against neo-Nazi march
Přerov, 26.6.2011 08:52, (ROMEA)
About 150 neo-Nazis marched through Přerov yesterday, supervised by 700 police officers. Their march route passed by a place where several hundred Romani people had gathered to counter-protest. Police riot units succeeded in preventing the neo-Nazis from attacking the Romani residents, who laughed at the neo-Nazi march and shouted "good-bye, good-bye" to them as they passed. With the exception of minor scuffles between the neo-Nazis and police officers, the police cordon managed to prevent serious incidents from occurring.
Participants in the right-wing extremist event, which was convened by the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), ended their march at around 15:30 at náměstí Svobody (Freedom Square), from which they had departed about an hour and a half previously. They started to disperse once the rally was over, and life in the town began to return to normal. "Promoters of the Workers' Party are gradually leaving Přerov, either by train or in personal vehicles," police spokesperson Michaela Sedláčková told the Czech Press Agency after the event was over.
Romani residents gathered at noon in a courtyard on Husova street not far from the train station. They had an excellent time playing music, barbecuing food, and giving speeches at a podium.
According to Richard Kořínek of the People in Need organization, the event was intended to express disagreement with the right-wing extremists' march in a peaceful way. The Archbishop of Olomouc, Jan Graubner, also attended to support the Romani residents. "It is impossible to approve of the extremists' actions. This illustrates the problems in this society as well as the fact that we have neglected solving them," Graubner told the Czech Press Agency.
"I believe that tolerance is the best way to respond to the DSSS march this afternoon. The Nazis will yell on the square for a while that they have the solution, but those are just empty words. The solution is equal access to education and working in a united way," Martin Šimáček, director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, said from the podium in Husova street. He also sent greetings from Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková, who supported the entire event.
Jarmila Balážová, chair of the ROMEA association, sent the following greeting to the gathering: "I am very glad that your town decided to organize a happening against this event by [DSSS chair] Tomáš Vandas, his promoters, and neo-Nazism in order to express your disagreement with extremist actions and opinions. We can't just sit at home, withdrawing in fear. Thanks once again for deciding to hold - like Ústí nad Labem, Nový Bydžov, Krupka and Brno - a civil, non-violent protest."
Clergyman František Lízna, Czech MEP Jan Březina, and Jozef Baláž, a member of the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Romani Community Affairs, also attended the event to show support for the Romani residents of Přerov.
When the DSSS march passed through Husova street, Romani people left the courtyard to watch them, laughing and whistling at them. Some neo-Nazis wanted to rush at them, but police officers prevented that.
According to Sedláčková, police did not have to detain anyone. However, the neo-Nazis were armed. "We confiscated (during personal searches of the extremists) one firearm, for which the owner was licensed, two collapsible nightsticks, three smaller knives, some rods and one set of brass knuckles on a man who was pretending to be a journalist," she said. DSSS chair Tomáš Vandas criticized the thorough personal searches of all people heading to náměstí Svobody (Freedom Square), calling them harassment. However, police rejected those claims given the need for security at the event.
Vandas himself was disappointed by the low turnout of his followers at the gathering. According to our correspondent, he complained off-mic that too few people had attended.
The DSSS event completely paralyzed the center of Přerov and the outlying areas. Police riot units were on the streets from late morning, as were mounted police. A police helicopter circled over the town. Transportation was halted, the streets along the march route were fenced off with police tape, and local residents could not access them. Shops in the neighborhood of the train station were shut and boarded up their display windows.
Two years ago in April the streets of Přerov were transformed into a battlefield when about 700 neo-Nazis attempted to break through police cordons when their event was officially over. Pieces of benching, firecrackers, paving stones and smoke bombs flew through the air near the bus station.
The DSSS is the successor to the Workers' Party, which was dissolved by the Czech Supreme Administrative Court last year. The court found the party's ideology, program and symbols included chauvinistic and xenophobic elements, a racist subtext, and was linked to national socialism, the ideology connected to Adolf Hitler.
ROMEA, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Posted by Morgan at 10:20 AM