Sunday, July 31, 2011


Subject: Stop taxpayer funds to Bachmann's anti-gay clinic.

Dear Friend,

So-called gay conversion therapy has been denounced by the scientific and medical communities as ineffective, and potentially dangerous.

But an investigation earlier this month exposed that this hateful practice is used by the "quality Christian counseling clinic" owned by Michele Bachmann and her husband -- a clinic which was recently discovered to have received over $137,000 in federal Medicaid funds, in addition to $24,000 in other state and federal funds.

It's bad enough that Bachmann and Associates, after denying for years they practiced ex-gay therapy, clearly encourages patients to pray the gay away. Our taxpayer dollars shouldn't be funding it.

I just signed a petition asking The Dept. of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid, and the Minnesota Dept. of Human Services, which distributes the funds within the state, to immediately pull public funds from Bachmann's clinic.

Learn more and sign the petition here:


The date for eviction looms heavy.

Dale Farm family homes are liable to bulldozing from midnight on 31st August. Dale Farm residents are devastated. Meantime, Saturday activity days at Dale Farm are growing in strength each week. Supporters from across the UK are visiting Dale Farm each Saturday, spending time with residents, taking part in legal observer training sessions, helping with practical logistics for the site, meeting with experts from Essex University Human Rights Clinic, and joining a growing network of committed solidarity workers preparing for resistance through civil disobedience.

There’s a huge amount of work to be done, but each week brings new faces, ingenuity, thoughtfulness, energy, and hope.
        Sign up to join ‘Camp Constant’, opening 27th August

To sign up to a text alert in case of eviction, or to spend a night at Dale Farm so that we can have a constant presence there, visit 

Please send this link to your friends and share it on social networking sites

The march will then proceed to Dale Farm and Camp Constant, a base at Dale Farm for human rights monitors and those who will engage in civil disobedience to stop the bulldozing.

Buses will also be available.

Please share the link

Please invite your friends to the facebook event here

Sign and send a letter to Kenneth Clarke, Secretary of State for Justice expressing your concern that the Legal Aid Bill as currently formulated which will disproportionately impact on Travellers and Gypsies.

This Bill threatens to remove Gypsies and Travellers access to legal support, and as a consequence seriously undermines the protection under the law of their rights. Here’s a letter written by members of the Essex Human Rights Clinic, which can be printed out and signed; just add your name and address, and put it in the post, or you can email a copy to:

You can also sign the petition here:



Life and times of gypsy site seen through camera's lens

THE walk into Dale Farm is not what you might call welcoming. The road is strewn with potholes and glass litters the approach to the scaffolding which acts as the official entrance, from which a hastily erected banner hangs declaring "we won't go". You are acutely aware you are entering someone else's land.

Few outsiders are able walk through the site without being watched with an air of suspicion. Fewer still are able to walk around with a camera filming the travellers in their day-to-day lives.

Richard Parry is the exception. Over six years the 44-year-old has cultivated a rapport with the community that has enabled him to film a documentary about the site and its inhabitants, which aired on BBC 1 on Thursday.

"The first time I came down here I was a bit nervous walking onto the site given the reputation," said Richard, who is sat perched with legs up on the garden wall outside Mary Ann McCarthy's home. "Half a minute later those fears were gone, they have always been very welcoming to me."

The Big Gypsy Eviction charts the conflicts and lives of the travellers since 2005, but also of residents in neighbouring Crays Hill. It portrays a balanced account of a situation that has escalated beyond belief.

For the most part, the director worked alone on the documentary, which he believes made it easier for people to relate to him.

"I don't believe in fly on the wall film making," he said. "You are emotionally attached to them. You are part of the story and the relations off camera are genuine.
"I have seen kids grow up. There was a pudgy, red-haired kid who I filmed in 2005. I came back a while later and he had completely changed. He had been to secondary school where he was bullied and dropped out. He started to grow suspicious of the settled community. It was sad to see that strain grow in him."

He recalls with great sadness the fire that claimed the lives of Cathleen McCarthy and her husband in 2005.
"I filmed Cathleen a week before she perished in the fire there. She was very funny, very verbose. I knew she liked to sing and I filmed her singing and a week later she died."

He played the recording of her singing at the site through a car stereo after she died.
"It was the most extraordinary sight – the women mourning," he recalled. "I didn't film it. You are part of the story, it is a pariah like activity. I was upset when Cathleen died, it makes the film more interesting, but someone died and that's more important."

Her singing can be heard accompanying footage in the documentary.

Such is his bond with the travellers, he accompanied them to Rathkeale, Ireland, where he "knocked back the Guinness" with Cathleen's brother.

So whose side is he on?

"I don't think I have a partisan view. I like them but I understand why the conflict exists," he replied. "I have got more emotional connections to these because I have known these people for so many years."

The Londoner was 14 years old when he shot his first film and had his first documentary broadcast in 1991. His career has taken him to war zones across the world. He is no stranger to conflict.
"What works well in documentaries is conflict and there is definitely clear conflict here – conflict with the council and with the locals. It does not have an easy answer. It is interesting to make a film for an audience that presents conflicting ideas, otherwise you are just making campaign films."

As part of the documentary, Richard spent time with Crays Hill residents who have seen their homes devalued by the traveller site, which has swelled to about five acres.
"There are people on the other side of the fence that I know as well. I am conflicted about it," he said with a hint of distress in his voice. "I don't want to see these people put on the roads. I have got to know and like them, but it doesn't mean I don't agree with green belt, it has to be protected."

The film-maker knows his subjects and spends time researching them. He does not have much time for Channel 4's traveller documentary, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which aired earlier this year. It promulgated the idea of 'grabbing' in the traveller community, whereby young males 'grab' girls for a kiss.

"They invented grabbing. I reckon those boys were having a laugh with them [the film-makers]. I have never heard of it, but they don't care. It got eight million people watching it.

"If you are a film maker, the responsibility is on you to put down what is true. Research it. If someone said that to me I would not put it down."

It is such integrity that has seen him accepted into the traveller community.

As we talked outside Mary Ann's home, Richard Sheridan, or Ricky as he is known to the film-maker, president of the Gypsy Council, came over to have his say on the eviction.

His arguments were passionate. "In some senses there is an oversimplification to their arguments," said Richard, following the speech by the gypsy council president. "But there are misunderstandings and miscommunication on both sides.

"It is a conflict and it has blown out of all proportion."

The solution in his eyes is for Basildon Borough Council to find alternative, smaller sites for the travellers.

There is also a potential follow- up to last week's documentary – the eviction itself.

"I don't want to see an eviction. It would be a great ending to my film, but I don't want to see it happen," he said solemnly.

It is a view shared by the travellers and the council, yet it is a reality that creeps ever closer with every passing day.

The Big Gypsy Eviction can be viewed on BBC iPlayer at





GYPSIES at the largest illegal ­travellers’ site in Europe are preparing to fight an £18million operation to kick them out and demolish their homes.
More than 90 families are appealing for a mass gathering of international support to join them in a last-ditch attempt to thwart the bulldozers.
Both sides are already squaring up for battle in the joint council and police eviction at the Dale Farm site at Crays Hill at Basildon, Essex.

Bailiffs are being trained by the council in how to deal with the gypsies when they raid the site anytime after an August 31 deadline for them to go.

The gypsies are undergoing ­“practical resistance training” and calling for the instruction of supporters as human rights monitors.

Tree-climbing and other evasion tactics will be used to make it difficult for the bailiffs.

The gypsies are ­hoping as many supporters as possible will bring tents or caravans to help mount non-violent opposition on the weekend before the deadline is up. Some gypsies have committed themselves to a campaign of “civil dis­obedience” and many nearby residents believe violent flare-ups are inevitable.

Neighbouring parish and district councils, as well as landowners, are being warned to prepare for a mass influx of other travellers.

The gypsies claim they should not be removed from the site until they are guaranteed legal sites elsewhere.

Some have been living on a legal, former scrapyard site for decades but since 2001 hundreds have poured on to adjoining land that has no planning ­permission, bringing the camp ­population up to 1,000, almost half of whom are ­living there illegally.

Local councillor Malcolm Buckley said: “Travellers should not break laws other people abide by.
“Why has this taken so long? ­Everybody wants to see the situation ­resolved. We are hoping the travellers will move on peacefully. “It will be a peaceful event unless the people on the site choose it not to be.”

Joseph Jones, secretary of the national Gypsy Council, said yesterday: “I’ve no idea what will happen or if there will be violence or not. The council was given a target of the number of pitches they should provide and they failed to meet it. They seem able to meet the target for people who live in houses, so why not for people who live in caravans?”

Eviction notices at the previously greenfield site were served by Basildon Council earlier this month.

The gypsies were ordered to go by the end of August or face having their caravans destroyed and any hard covering or permanent property smashed up and bulldozed.

The council has budgeted £8million for the eviction, which could go on for six weeks, while police anticipate it will cost them £10million, of which the Home Office has pledged £8million.

Dawn French, for Basildon Council, said: “Bailiff training will include ­cultural awareness and discrimination law requirements.”

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Special to JTNews

A Personal Account of the Shooting at the Jewish Federation:

5 Years Later
The attack on the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle was
5 years ago today, July 28, 2006.
Ilana Cone Kennedy, the Holocaust Center's Director of Education, was in the building that day. The Holocaust Center is located in the Jewish Federation building. As a recent winner of the Pamela Waechter Jewish Communal Professional Award, Ilana writes of her experiences that day, and remembers Pam's contributions to the community.

I am honored to have recently been selected as a recipient of the Pamela Waechter Jewish Communal Service Award. Having known and admired Pam, this award is especially meaningful to me.
In a recent discussion about the award, two of the Holocaust Center’s college interns casually asked me, “Who was Pam?”

Five years ago already, and still my hands shake when called upon to describe that day: Friday, July 28, 2006.

I wasn’t shot. In fact, I never even saw the gunman until I was in the courtroom with him almost two years later. But I was there. I heard it all. I felt it. I could smell it.

“In the building.” That’s how people referred to our small group. Yes, we were in the building on that Friday afternoon when Naveed Haq forced his way in and shot six women, some more than once, killing one of them and holding another hostage. He was angry at Jewish people for the world situation. He looked up Jewish organizations online and chose his target.

I was “in the building” when it happened — on the floor below where the shooting occurred. It was a warm Friday afternoon. I was seven months pregnant and just beginning my fourth year as director of education at the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.

I heard popping. Screaming. In an instant my mind sorted through its familiar sounds trying to make sense of the situation. A party? Banging. Falling. More screaming. Popping noises. Thuds. Furniture falling? People falling? I had never heard such terrified, pain-filled screams. I knew it was gunshots.

I started to run to the back entrance of the Holocaust Center, where the door opens to a hallway that leads to the staircase up to the Federation’s lobby. A person came running screaming down the hall. Don’t go that way, I told myself. I quickly closed the door and locked it.

The popping noise was moving above me. Multiple shooters? Multiple guns? My colleagues? My friends? I turned off the lights so it looked like no one was here. I grabbed my bag and dialed 911 on my cell phone. My coworker Kami and I rushed out the front entrance.

Standing on the sidewalk just outside the Federation’s and Holocaust Center’s entrances, the 911 operator was on the phone with me. I looked up at the Federation’s second-story windows, trying to see something. I can still hear the screaming. My coworkers. Who was screaming?

“Someone is shooting,” I explained to the operator. I heard my call years later, in 2009 — in the second trial against Naveed Haq. I always wondered what I must have sounded like. Nervous, shocked, but surprisingly calm.

We hurried to the corner and headed up Lenora. On Lenora, people rushed out the Federation’s side entrance. Panic-stricken. Wide-eyed. Running.

Just as I reached the side entrance, Christina came out. She stopped in the doorway, and looked at Kami and me on the sidewalk. She was panicked and covered in blood from her neck to her knees. She collapsed to the ground and her blood flowed onto the sidewalk by my feet. With remarkable speed Kami took her own white sweater and tried to find where the blood was coming from.
I was still on the phone with 911 — the operator urged me not to hang up. Again from the recording I later heard in the courtroom, I was trying to explain that someone had been shot and was bleeding. I was trying to describe our location. And then I saw a tall policeman behind me.
Chaos. How many gunmen? Was he/were they still in there? How many people were still in the building? Who had been shot?

The police moved us further up the street so they could surround the building. The SWAT team came. How long was this? Minutes? Everyone from inside the building collected in front of Starbucks.
Christina’s limp body was there too, in a puddle of blood as paramedics worked to save her.
I looked around. Cheryl was on the corner across the street. Bewildered. Why was she sitting down, I wondered? Molly ran toward us, as did Cheryl’s niece. Dayna was on a stretcher, as was Carol. I started to cry when I saw Dayna. Like me, she was pregnant. Oh God, what happened?
Confusion. Shock. The media arrived. My husband and sister suddenly were at my side. The news had already broadcast that a pregnant woman had been shot. Jon thought it was me. It wasn’t. Crazy luck.

Hours went by. A small bus took those of us who were “in the building” but not needing medical attention to the police station. We all compared stories, made phone calls, tried to figure out what happened. Who was missing? Did someone die? We didn’t yet know. Kami and I sat with a piece of paper in the back of the bus. We made lists and lists of the people we thought had been there that afternoon. Who was not with us? Did one of “us” die?

Hours more at the police station, as we all gave our statements. Then, the longest day was over. Jon picked me up. We went home. It was getting dark.

My lovely friend thoughtfully dropped off flowers. An email went out to our neighborhood: “Heads up everyone — this is one of our neighbors.”

I couldn’t eat. I could hardly talk. I was home, but nothing looked like it had that morning. I was bewildered and frightened. I went to bed that night wondering if someone might come to get me because I am Jewish and maybe they wanted to finish the job.

Pam Waechter was killed. Pam. Pam — who my parents knew from when we were members of Temple B’nai Torah when it was in a tiny building on Mercer Island. Pam — who had just given me suggestions on possible locations for events. Pam — who had never done anything to anyone. This man took her life away.

Pam was a Jew by choice — she had chosen this religion, people, and history to be her own. She committed herself to this community with passion. She became president of her synagogue, president of the region for the Union of Reform Judaism. She headed committees as a volunteer, and later worked at several executive positions at the Jewish Federation. She was a role model and mentor to so many, including me.

Christina had been shot twice, as had Layla. Cheryl, Carol, and Dayna each had also been shot. My colleagues — people I saw every day.

My work, where I went every day, no longer seemed like a place I could trust. And I had this baby to consider. I had to keep it together.

The pieces of the story finally fell into place. I remember I cried a lot in those first few months afterward. I cried at random times — driving in my car, making dinner, or grocery shopping. I cried for my friends who had been shot. For their families and unexpected tragedies that forever changed their lives in ways I still cannot even imagine. I cried for all of the pain and suffering that exists in this world. And I listened to angry music — because I was truly angry.

I testified in two long trials against Naveed Haq. But even after his sentencing, I didn’t feel closure.
My world had changed. It never escaped me that this happens to people every day, and the world goes on. Most don’t get the support we received — alone they are left to pick up the pieces.
I went into labor on Yom Kippur. My son Erez was born early the next day — a healthy, beautiful boy. “Strong as a cedar tree” his name means — and it couldn’t be more appropriate. Indeed his spirit is strong.

The world goes on and on, despite the everyday tragedies and the daily miracles. I doubly committed myself to my work at the Holocaust Center, where we try to impart on students the dangers of stereotyping and prejudice and the importance of speaking out against intolerance.

For over eight years I’ve had the gift and honor of working with Holocaust survivors, teachers, and students, children and grandchildren of survivors, and individuals from all over the globe interested in learning about genocide and how we can make a difference.

Each day I come to work, to a building with increased security. When I walk up the stairs to the Jewish Federation, which I do several times a day, I can’t help but think of Pam. She died on those stairs.

Erez is now almost 5 and our younger daughter, Lilah, is almost 3. I am keenly aware that life can change in an instant. Each night I kiss my kids and thank God for all of these gifts in my life. And each day, when the problems of the world seem almost too big, too overwhelming, I try to remind myself that my choices and actions each day, even the little ones, make a difference.
Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



Police probe neo-Nazi link to Roma arson attack

Published: 26 Jul 11 11:24 CET

Police investigating an arson attack on an apartment housing Roma and Sinti families in Leverkusen were continuing Tuesday morning to probe the possibility that neo-Nazis may have been behind the attack.

Police and state prosecutors in nearby Cologne in North Rhine-Westphalia are investigating a xenophobic motive to the attack, in which nine people had to flee a ground-floor apartment after assailants hurled several fire bombs through the windows around 12:25 am Monday.

All nine people in the apartment escaped unharmed but the apartment was totally burnt out by the blaze and only the intervention of the fire brigade stopped it destroying the rest of the building.

The attack came amid a heightened atmosphere surrounding far-right violence in the wake of the massacre of at least 76 people on Friday by a Norwegian nationalist.

Witnesses saw two young men wearing dark clothing fleeing the scene in a dark Volkwagen car, possibly a Golf or Polo, with number plates from the NRW city of Neuss, police reported. Daily Bild reported that the fleeing suspected had shaved heads.

A police spokesman confirmed to The Local on Tuesday morning that investigators were continuing to probe the possibility that right-wing extremists were behind the attack, though all avenues were being examined.

Twenty-one officers from the Cologne police, including members of the arson squad, were investigating.

The Local/djw

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



26/07/2011 -

Nicolas Sarkozy’s attempts to force thousands of Roma migrants to leave France has done nothing to cut their numbers, a new report shows, prompting a fresh wave of criticism against a policy that has been compared with the treatment of Jews during the second world war.

Médecins du Monde, a French charity that has worked with the Roma community for decades, said on Tuesday that 10,000 Roma were leaving each year because of the French president’s decision to break up illegal gypsy camps.
But it said most were simply returning to France because of even worse living conditions in their “home states” of Romania and Bulgaria, meaning the French Roma population remains stable at 15,000.

In a highly critical examination of the government’s deportation policy – published on the anniversary of a now notorious speech by Mr Sarkozy calling for the dismantling of Roma camps – Médecins du Monde said the crackdown had led to a big rise in “pressure and intimidation” from the police, firebomb attacks on gypsy sites and the spread of disease within the community. Campaigners have warned of an intensification of camp clearances in the summer months.

The rate of incidents of tuberculosis in the Roma camps has reached 2.5 per cent as people are forced to move from site to site in ever more squalid conditions, according to Jean-François Corty, head of French operations at Médecins du Monde. A few years ago it was near the French average of 0.03 per cent of the population.

Mr Sarkozy’s targeting of the Roma community became a political flashpoint in a broader European Union debate about migration last summer, prompting comparisons with the Vichy regime’s treatment of Jews – claims vigorously rejected by government officials.
The president was accused of stealing the clothes of the far right National Front in an effort to boost his flagging poll ratings by appealing to anti-immigrant sentiment.

Recent figures from the French immigration and integration office show that the number of deportations – referred to as “humanitarian returns” – to Romania and Bulgaria actually declined in 2010.

Audrey Floersheim, who works for Médecins du Monde in Marseille, said while expulsions of camp-dwellers remained frequent, the number of Roma present in the city was stable at between 1,500 and 2,000. She said: “Even though large numbers of families return to Romania after an expulsion, most come back rapidly given the conditions of life over there.”

The National Front has responded to the evidence that the number of Roma in France has remained stable by calling for an even tougher line against the camps.

However, campaigners insist that the absence of any change in the population shows the folly of Mr Sarkozy’s policy, which they say is hampering efforts to provide proper vaccinations to the migrants and has removed access to water and electricity.

“These political expulsions provide no solution to the problem,” one aid worker said. “It only displaces the issue and makes an already fragile population even more precarious.”


Monday, July 25, 2011



Hungary: New mayor from Jobbik party to manage town where inter-ethnic tensions continue

Gyöngyöspata, Hungary, 18.7.2011 16:57, (ROMEA)

As of yesterday, the Hungarian town of Gyöngyöspata has a new mayor. Voters selected the candidate for the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party ("Movement for a Better Hungary"). The town's problems with ultra-nationalists, which resulted in the evacuation of Romani families and international embarrassment three months ago, may not be over.

Newly-elected Mayor Oszkár Juhász was one of seven candidates for the office, including the chair of the local Romani self-government, János Farkas. Former mayor László Tabi resigned in April after the ultra-nationalists clashed with Romani residents in the town, giving health problems as the official reason for his resignation. However, when asked by the MTI press agency whether the escalating long-term conflicts had contributed to his departure, he did not deny it.

Three months ago, János Farkas practically predicted what would happen in the town: "The local mayor might resign due to the growing tension and his successor could be a candidate from the radical nationalist party Jobbik." He also noted that in that case he would probably seek asylum in Canada, Great Britain, or the USA.

This spring, the extremist paramilitary organization Véderő (Defense) established a training camp near Gyöngyöspata. Uniformed members of the group then began patrolling the village, allegedly because of unbearable crime being committed by Romani residents. Romani activists, concerned at the threat posed to the Romani community, organized the departure en masse of Romani children and women from the village by chartered bus, which eventually led to responses from both the Hungarian Government and the international community. However, the Hungarian Government rejected interpretations of this event as an "evacuation" of Romani people precipitated by danger and stated, together with the Red Cross, that the departure had been a planned Easter trip for the children. The Romani children and women returned to the village two days later.

During that weekend, the Hungarian Police called on those participating in the paramilitary training camp to immediately shut it down. The organizer and his two assistants were detained by police, but later released. AFP reported that they began returning to the village, resulting in a clash between the radical nationalists and local Romani people in which four people were injured, one of them severely. A 14-year-old mentally disabled boy was among the victims.

The situation of the local Romani people has not changed because the village does not have the resources for it. Problems are continuing and have culminated in the election of a candidate from the ultra-right Jobbik party as mayor.
ras, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Sunday, July 24, 2011




Jul 24 2011

The 17 year-old, from Malvern in Worcestershire, should be looking forward to the release of her debut single, Swagger Jagger, next week.
But after it was leaked online last week, the former X Factor star received a barrage of abuse on her Twitter account.
One person warned Cher on the social network site: “As soon as I get my driving licence, I am going to run you over.”
Another wrote: “You are an awful, stupid brat and I hate your music.”

Other abusive messages were posted, but they are too X-rated for a family newspaper to publish.
But while most teens would probably crumble under such ferocious attack, feisty Cher has hit back by tackling the internet bullies.

She wrote: “You may view me as being talentless but ya’ still taking the time to tweet me.’’ In another Twitter message she wrote: “If someone can say that to me then they can say it to anyone. Fight the bullies. Don’t let them win!”

She also responded to further racist taunts about her ethnic background, with some abusers poking fun at her traveller roots.

Cher wrote: “I’m a gypsy. Are you coming with me? I am what I am, like it or lump it.”
It is not the first time the talented teenager has had to defend herself against racist slurs.

Earlier this year one Twitter user asked the singer: “Shouldn’t you be preparing for your Big Fat Gypsy Wedding?”

Another user wrote: “Gypsy life expectancy is 50. That means we probably have another 33 years of Cher Lloyd.”

It is not only on Twitter that Cher has faced criticism, and she was recently blasted by rap artist Example.

But with a single due out and a debut album on the way, she looks like having the last laugh.

Cher recently said: “Some people find it hard to come to terms with the fact that everyone is different.
“I think it all boils down to their own insecurities – if you’re unhappy with yourself, you’re going to pick on someone else, and that’s what they’re doing.
“I feel sorry for them.”

She also credited her fans with giving her strength, adding: ‘It’s really good. I call them my brats because they’re feisty.

“I don’t even have to open my mouth – they do it for me. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Saturday, July 23, 2011




Friday, 22 July 2011


The candidate of the far-right party Jobbik became mayor of Gyöngyöspata on Monday with roughly a third of the vote. He has already announced he intends to set up a local gendarmerie to keep order in the town that has been plagued by politically fuelled ethnic tension in recent month. For a village of under 3,000 souls,

Gyöngyöspata has gained a surprisingly high profile both at home and abroad – and for the worst of reasons. Jobbik got the ball rolling in March when it staged a rally calling for action to end “Gypsy terror” (the rhetoric having been ratcheted up a notch since the party scored 17 per cent in last year’s general election with a campaign against “gypsy crime”).

The rally marked the arrival in the village of a thuggish group calling itself the “Civil Guard for a Better Future”, which began patrolling the streets, especially the peripheral Gypsy ghetto. According to Amnesty International, the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center and others, this involved frequent intimidation of the local Roma population.

Far right’s fertile ground

After over two weeks, and amid increasing domestic and international press attention, the vigilante group left to continue its activities elsewhere. Then came the Good Friday “evacuation”, organised by the US businessman Richard Field with the assistance of the Hungarian Red Cross, of 267 Roma women and children from the village.

A nationalist paramilitary outfit calling itself Defence Force (Védero) had for weeks been advertising a military training camp to be held on land it had acquired in Gyöngyöspata. The choice of the small village some 75 kilometres northeast of the capital was coincidental, the group said. It was also a coincidence, we were asked to believe, that it happened to overlook the low-lying area on the edge of town where most of the local Roma live (as in many rural villages, in de facto segregation). The HRC bussed out the village’s Roma women and children on the morning of 22 April, subsequently stating that the event had been a simple Easter camping trip, organised at the request of locals three days earlier. The organisation denied that the event had been an “evacuation”, as it had been widely reported.

The police moved in in the afternoon and broke up the Védero camp before it got underway. The leader of Defence Force, Tamás Eszes, and some of his associates were arrested and charged with disorder-related offences. All were subsequently released after a court found no grounds to detain them. Within days of these events, the government legislated to outlaw the “uniformed crime” of the numerous self-appointed guardians of public order and Hungarian culture that took their cue from Jobbik’s own Hungarian Guard (outlawed in 2009 for human rights offences against Roma villagers).

Eszes stood for the post of mayor, and garnered just over ten per cent of votes cast.



Saturday, July 23, 2011

SECRET talks have been held between the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the borough council and travellers who are facing eviction from Europe's largest illegal gypsy site Dale Farm.

The discussions were cited as being "independent" by the leader of Basildon Borough Council Tony Ball. However, the travellers have claimed that Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the commission, is on their side.

Mr Phillips travelled to Dale Farm, in Crays Hill, on Monday morning along with Simon Woolley, a commissioner for the EHRC.

They later met with Mr Ball and representatives of the "settled community", although the itinerary was kept a closely guarded secret.

Richard Sheridan, the president of the Gypsy Council, accompanied Mr Phillips around Dale Farm, where 86 traveller families who live on the green belt site without planning permission are expected to be evicted in September in an operation that could cost the taxpayer up to £18 million.

"I believe he [Mr Phillips] is on our side," said Mr Sheridan. "He wants to take the adult approach. He would like to see the children going to school every morning."

Mr Sheridan, 40, described Mr Phillips, who was appointed EHRC chair in September 2006, as a "genuine and nice person".

"At the end of the day we are an ethnic minority and we have human rights," Mr Sheridan said.
"He is going to make sure our rights are addressed."

Mr Ball, however, rejected claims that Mr Phillips is on the side of the travellers.
He said: "They are independent, they came with a view that if they can help avoid a forced eviction, they will do what they can to help."

Cllr Ball met with Mr Phillips and Crays Hill residents at the Basildon Centre on Monday afternoon.
"It is the first time they have listened to representatives from the settled community as well as the travellers," added Cllr Ball.

"If they have got anything they can do, they will come up with some proposals."

A 2009 commission report regarding the inequalities experienced by traveller communities stated:

"The continuing cycle of evictions associated with homelessness among caravan-dwelling gypsies and travellers is a shameful blot on the face of Britain."

It goes on to read: "Irish travellers currently at Dale Farm...experience the full weight of hostile political power, despite valiant legal and community struggles."

Mr Phillips declined to speak to the Gazette in person. However, a spokesman for his commission said: "It is in the interest of all parties to find a peaceful solution to the situation at Dale Farm. Neither the gypsy and traveller residents nor the wider settled community will benefit from a costly eviction.

"Representatives from the commission made a private visit to Dale Farm to listen to what all parties have to say to help find a way forward that is acceptable to all."

Friday, July 22, 2011




State to create jobs for Roma

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
A state agency prepares to launch a project aiming to give more jobs to the members of Roma community in Turkey. While the representatives of the communty welcome the move, they expect the jobs to be ‘familiar’ to the Roma

The Turkish Employment Organization, or İş-Kur, has announced a new project that aims to create more employment opportunities for members of Turkey’s Roma community.
The project will specifically focus on provinces with high populations of Roma people, said İş-Kur head director Mustafa Biçerli.

“We are now in talks with Roma organizations from 16 different cities such as Çanakkale, Edirne, İzmir and Tekirdağ,” Biçerli told Anatolia news agency. “Roma people are among those who are disadvantaged in finding jobs, but we want to change that.”

The project aims to create vocational courses for members of the Roma community and to provide employment-guaranteed jobs for participants.

“Most of the Roma people work in jobs without social security. It is important to provide them work in other job sectors,” Biçerli said.

The rate of unemployment among Turkey’s Roma community is 97 percent, according to Şükrü Pündük, the chairman of the Sulukule Roma Culture Cultivation and Solidarity Association.

“Most Roma people are musicians, and the rest are doing jobs such as collecting paper from the garbage,” Pündük told the Hürriyet Daily News over the phone.

About 6,000 musicians used to work in Sulukule, a heavily Roma-populated district in Istanbul that was once a center of entertainment, Pündük said, adding that its residents were relocated from the area when it went through an urban-gentrification process in 2009.

“All the people who worked there lost their jobs, and haven’t found anything since then. These people are musicians; that’s why it is important to find job sectors in which they can perform their jobs. This is also important for our culture,” Pündük said.

Erdem Gürümcüler from the Edirne Roma Federation, or EDROM, agreed.
“We are very glad that İş-Kur is starting such a project. They should also create job opportunities for our women and young people,” Gürümcüler told the Daily News.

“Roma people are very hard-working and if they are given opportunities they will do their best,” he added. “They are not just musicians and dancers, yet it is important to note that they have a long history as musicians and they need more job opportunities in music and entertainment areas.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011



Ghetto Hope': music opens doors to gypsy children

SLIVEN, Bulgaria — Discordant brass notes escape from a rehearsal room in Sliven's gypsy ghetto, as 15 local boys prepare for band practice and take a break from the poverty-stricken life of the slum outside.

"Now boys -- one, two, three...," band leader Angel Tichaliev calls out and the tunes merge into a bold, lively melody that resonates in the room barely bigger than a one-car garage.
The retired trumpet player formed the Karandila Junior band in 2007 to give a new chance for children and grandchildren of fellow gypsy musicians in this neighbourhood incongruously named Nadezhda, or "hope" in Bulgarian.

"Music is a way to steal the boys away from the everyday reality in the ghetto and to keep the gypsy orchestra tradition alive," says the 56-year-old, who used to play in a military band.
Karandila Junior is Bulgaria's only youth gypsy band. It has already performed at several popular music festivals abroad, including the Vienna Balkan Fever festival and Hungary's famous Sziget Festival.

In January, they released their first album called "Ghetto Hope", named after their run-down slum of 20,000 inhabitants where hope, indeed, is in small supply -- as it is for most of Bulgaria's 700,000-strong Roma community, one of the largest in Europe.

Crowds of ragged children jostle with horse carts in the narrow, laundry-draped alleys of Nadezhda -- notorious since communist times for its high levels of crime, illiteracy and poverty. Chickens peck for food outside the band's rehearsal room, oblivious to the loud music inside.

While Bulgarian Roma are still ghettoised and face rampant prejudice, "there's no such thing as discrimination when it comes to music," insists Tichaliev.

The band's compositions -- a blend of gypsy music, Bulgarian and Turkish folklore and even jazz and reggae -- have received a warm welcome from some of Bulgaria's leading composers and musicians and they have a run of upcoming gigs across the country and in neighboring Macedonia.

"People like us there because we make motley gypsy music where everything sounds natural," Tichaliev says.

-- 'We gypsies have a knack for it' --

His hope to open up new horizons for the boys, aged 12 to 18, seems to be paying off. For some, the Vienna trip was their first time abroad. Others are rethinking goals.

"My dad is a barber and he teaches me, but I want to become a musician," says Rumen, 15, patting his borrowed old trumpet like a pet.

Marian and Filcho, both 12-year-old clarinet players, think music might be a better option than their earlier dreams of becoming great football players.
All the boys play by ear, often improvising during performances. A few have started to learn to read music.

"We gypsies have a knack for it and can't do anything better than this," Tichaliev says.
He insists that all his boys go to school "even if I don't quite know how well they teach them there."

While he hopes some will study music seriously some day, his immediate dreams involve replacing the band's ageing instruments and finding money for new performance suits since many boys have grown out of their old ones.

"Friends here and abroad help me financially but in Bulgaria hardly anyone ever takes it upon himself to lend a hand," he says. As for support from government Roma programmes, they have contributed nothing, he shrugs.

Undeterred, Tichaliev is planning a second album for Karandila Junior and wants to form an even younger Karandila Mini band next year.

Candidates are plentiful, judging by the faces peeking in the window during rehearsals or sneaking into the room to listen. When Tichaliev steps away for a moment, 10-year-old Asen grabs a bass guitar almost twice as big as himself and plays to applause from other boys.

"Rehearsal's over. Cut out the cacophony," Tichaliev snaps and the boys scurry out onto the puddle-covered alley to head home along the concrete wall that hides their slum from Sliven's railway station.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Finally, some good news. Even better,some people are working to arrange a concert in Seattle Wa.

Here are confirmed dates for Esma Rezdepova's fall tour

Sept 16- Albuquerque, Globalquerque
Sept 18- Chicago, World Music Festival
Sept 24- New York, Drom, NY Gypsy Festival
Sept 27- Oakland, Yoshi's
Oct 1- Los Angeles, Luckman, World Festival of Sacred Music

Other dates may be added.

The band consists of:
Esma Redepova
Eleonora Mustafovska
Aleksandar Stamenkovski
Zahir Ramadanov
Bilhan Macev
Tasko Grujovski
Simeon Atanasov
Antonijo Zekirovski

Ah ha.  The date for the Esma concert in Seattle Washington, U.S.A. is
25 Sept. 2011.
Don't know the venue yet, but mark the date.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011




Sunday July 17 2011
The Observer

Film-maker Richard Parry has been following the conflict over Dale Farm, Essex, for six years. Now, with a mass eviction on the way he asks if there is a better way of resolving such a long-running conflict

"We're not going to go peacefully ? I can tell you that now," says Mimi Sheridan. Piles of gas canisters block the entrance to Dale Farm as Mimi and 50 families brace themselves for the final showdown.

I have been filming on and off at the Dale Farm Travellers' site, near Basildon in Essex, for six years. The site is Europe's largest illegal encampment of Gypsies. A thousand Travellers live there, but only half of them have planning permission for their pitches. After exhaustive legal disputes that have gone all the way to the House of Lords and the European court of human rights, this epic battle is reaching a climax. Basildon council has finally decided to go ahead with what will be the UK's biggest eviction in modern history. The Travellers have been issued with notices giving them until the end of August to leave.

I never thought I would see the day. For years the Travellers have said they would not leave without an almighty struggle. "Basildon will burn!" they vowed. They have threatened to bury gas canisters and fill ditches with petrol. If they were forced off, they said, they would block the M25 with caravans and pull on to the council's land instead.

These Travellers have welcomed me into their homes. They have shown me a part of British society that until recently was kept well-guarded. On the other side of the fence, literally, I have spent a fair amount of time with their arch enemy, Len Gridley, a local whose garden backs on to the site and who has pressed the council for 10 years to carry through its threat to evict.

On a personal level, it is hard not to warm to the Travellers. They are a vibrant, engaging, humorous lot, welcoming to those they perceive as friendly. I filmed Cathleen McCarthy only a week before she and her husband died in a caravan fire in 2005. I brought the recordings of her singing for her daughter to hear. It was the strangest day for me, as women in black gathered on the charred site to listen to the ghostly voice being played from a car stereo. I have also filmed her brother singing the same songs in his home in Rathkeale, Ireland.

You are either a friend or foe in Travellers' eyes, with not much of a grey area in between. Living cheek by jowl has not been easy for some of their neighbours. House prices have collapsed and they have been unable to sell up. And the one or two that have made a noise about the illegal plots at the end of their gardens have suffered the wrath of their enemy. Len Gridley has received public death threats and no doubt numerous private ones. Some Travellers have told me: "If we go, he goes." They have threatened that there will be "a price to pay".

There is a local, anti-Gypsy rhyme, popular with some: "The planning laws, they are a joke/ They don't apply to the pikey bloke." Now only Gridley is left with his head above the parapet. "I've had death threats on national television, I've had death threats in the lane, but I won't let them intimidate me," he says.

Interestingly, it turned out during my filming that Gridley had relatives who were English Gypsies. He has no problem with them, saying they have adapted to modern life and settled down. But Gridley's war with the  the Travellers now seems to devour his whole life. You wonder how he will fill his days when the eviction has come and gone.

If the Travellers don't go quietly (no one thinks they will), and the bailiffs and police move in, I seriously doubt that there will be anything less than a full-scale battle. More than 500 police and bailiffs will be needed to clear 500 Travellers from land that some of them say they are prepared to die for. The stakes are high and the two sides have been squaring up for years. On a personal level, I think the Travellers have taken this battle to heart. They are familiar with conflict and many of the older generation grew up on the roadsides, where life was tough and strife was common.

Mimi is one of the main contributors to our film. She is an Irish Traveller who lost her daughter in a motorbike accident two years ago and has been living in the shadow of that tragedy ever since. She has no savings and has little left to lose in a potential battle. She was deeply depressed after the loss of her daughter and might have ended her own life if it weren't for her Catholicism.

I am sure she will be at the forefront of any pitched battles. When the council tried to serve the 28-day notice  she and other women met them with a pile of gas canisters. They doused the canisters in petrol and stood threateningly with a lit lighter. As the bailiffs and police retreated, she immersed an old teddy bear in fuel, set light to it and threw it after them. "This is now a no-go site. They're not welcome any more."

I find myself conflicted. I have come to know these people, who have opened their doors to me and let me film them. I also understand and appreciate the need to enforce a green belt policy. But there must be a better solution than the primitive old-style evictions that they now face.

It will cost ?10m and the question remains: where will these people go? The problem will not just disappear. It will merely be displaced to anger other communities.



* SATURDAY, 16th July: Meeting and activity workshops at Dale Farm
Starts 11am.
Dale Farm Solidarity meeting, construction/resistance workshops, and
time with Dale Farm residents.

* SUNDAY, 17th July: Dale Farm discussion at Squattastic
Starts at 2pm.
at ‘Well Furnished’ Valentine Road/Well St. Hackney E9

* CAMP CONSTANT, from 27th August:
Mass gathering of national and international supporters of the Dale
Farm community will begin Saturday, August 27th.
* You can sign up to our email bulletins here:

Weekend of 27th – 29th August, will be a weekend of Traveller history
& celebration, practical eviction resistance training,
training for legal observers and human rights monitors, and an opening
party on Saturday night.
Sleeping space is available in caravans or you can bring a tent.

From midnight August 31st: an eviction could happen at any time and we
might not know when.
We’ll need people to be on standby to come up to Dale Farm in the
event of an eviction.
We also need people to spend the night at Dale Farm to provide around
the clock support to the community and resistance to the eviction.
We are looking for groups and individuals to pledge to stay overnight.
See: for details.

3 upcoming events and announcements

1) Thursday, July 21, 10:35 pm: The Big Gypsy Eviction - BBC1 documentary on Dale Farm

It probably won't be terribly sympathetic, but ask your friends to watch and post it through social media!

2) SATURDAY, 23rd July: Meeting and activity day at Dale Farm (5 weeks until Camp Constant)

Starts 11am, meeting at 1pm. Legal Observer training, tree climbing skill share, site building

3) Consultation on Traveller sites policy

The governments new 'planning for Traveller sites' policy is out for consultation until the beginning of August. The decision to take a
‘hands-off’ approach to site provision on the grounds that Local Authorities are ‘best placed to know the needs of their communities’ is a very worrying

development, given that many Local Authorities treat Gypsies and Travellers as problems to be got rid of, rather than as members of the community. It
also gives councils tougher enforcement powers which will make Dale Farm style evictions of Gypsies and Travellers easier.

You can find details of the policy consultation here:

The more responses they get saying that it's a dangerous backwards step the better. There is a long questionnaire but you can also just send letters or emails expressing concern.

Here is a response as an example:

Sunday, July 17, 2011




By Kirsty Buchanan and Tracey Kandohla

IT may look like a typical village primary but Braybrooke has become the first school in Britain where all the pupils are gypsies.
The school has divided opinion in the picturesque Northants village, where residents have decided to boycott it.

Fearing their children’s education will suffer if they share a class with travellers, many are driving them to nearby village schools.

Head teacher Ken Sharman says he is proud of his “delightful” school but Kettering MP Philip Hollobone is horrified that locals are being driven out by the gypsies, some of whom occupy illegal sites.

Mr Hollobone, who has urged Education Minister Nick Gibb to visit the school, says Braybrooke must be “the only school in the country where children from the local village do not attend”.
He added: “This is not an issue of race. One of the big problems, especially in the summer term, [is that] a lot of traveller children do not turn up because they are travelling.

“A member of the settled community would be reluctant to send their child to a school with such a disruptive atmosphere.” The village has 325 homes and the school caters for 40 children, 17 boys and 23 girls, aged four to 11.

Ofsted rated the school as “good”, but said attendance was “well below average” because families were travelling in the summer.
“Attainment on entry is affected by this high mobility,” it said.

One resident, a 44-year-old builder, said: “We do not want our lad going to a school where he could start learning bad habits and running riot.

“We would rather drive miles to take him to a different school. The whole village has boycotted the school. It’s a shame but villagers feel they have been driven out.” Another resident added: “These traveller families probably don’t pay any taxes but their kids are going to our school and seemingly getting a better education than our children. It seems unfair.”

While Kettering District Council has an authorised site, a number of illegal camps have sprung up around Braybrooke. Residents have set up an action group to fight illegal developments.
Residents fear their village will be overwhelmed after travellers started to buy up plots on a 37-acre site called Greenfields.

They say traveller parents drive up to the school in Bentleys and Mercedes to pick up their children.
One said: “Ever since traveller kids have been here other parents have turned their noses up at the school. It’s their loss. It’s a brilliant school. Without Braybrooke, our kids would have no education.”
Mr Sharman, head teacher for seven years, fears public criticism could close the school.

“We all feel extremely defensive,” he said. “I am really pleased to be here but I am saddened by the fact the school could take everybody but, because of polarised opinion, that hasn’t happened.”

Saturday, July 16, 2011



Town hall in Romania building wall around part of Romani housing estate

In Romania, the Baia Mare town hall is building a wall around part of a Romani housing estate. A wave of protest has immediately risen up against the construction, Czech Television channel ČT 24 reports.
Human rights defenders, locals and politicians are arguing over the two-meter high, 100-meter long wall going up between the prefabricated apartment blocks housing Romani people and the road. "We don't want to discriminate against anyone or isolate them from anything. This wall separates the community from a busy road. Last year there were several serious traffic accidents here," argues the Mayor of Baia Mare, Catalin Chereches.

Human rights defenders say that is only an excuse. They also do not recognize the argument that there have been regular complaints from drivers on the road that their cars have been damaged by people throwing garbage and stones at them. The human rights defenders say the wall is creating a ghetto and that racism is the motive.

"The solution to this problem is education, employment opportunities, and integration. People must respect one another," Delia Nita of the Center for Legal Resources says.

Romania has a population of 22 million. An estimated two and a half million Romani people live there, making it the country in Europe with the highest proportion of Romani people. When the country joined the European Union in 2007, hundreds of thousands of Romani people left Romania for a better life in the west.

The Czech Republic experienced similar protests 12 years ago over the case of Matiční street in Ústí nad Labem. At the time the town hall had to remove the fence it had erected to separate the dwellings of rent defaulters - primarily Romani people - from the neighboring houses.

You can read the entire article (in Czech) at

ČT24, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Thursday, July 14, 2011



BEIRUT - Of all Lebanon's communities the Dom, described by some researchers as "the Gypsies of Lebanon", are the most marginalized: Up to 68 percent of Dom children do not attend school, according to a new report.

"Their access to legal protection, health, education, adequate shelter and food is very difficult, verging on impossible," said Charles Nasrallah, Director of Insan Association, an NGO that promotes respect for the rights of vulnerable communities. "Such problems were compounded by acute social marginalization."

The Dom are also sometimes described as `Nawwar', an Arabic word carrying derogatory connotations of poor hygiene, laziness, begging and questionable morality. Many, according to the report released on 8 July by Insan and Swiss NGO Terre des Hommes (TDH), have Lebanese citizenship, but deeply engrained discrimination has rendered them worse off even than Palestinian refugees.

The results of the study "are screaming out for all actors on the humanitarian landscape to re-think their current programming initiatives and bring the Dom people and their children into the humanitarian space in Lebanon," said Jason Squire, country delegate of TDH Lebanon. "The wider community in Lebanon does not live and experience the same daily hardships that the Dom face," he added.

The Dom are a poorly understood ethnic minority living across a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, the occupied Palestinian territory, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Like gypsy communities in Europe, historians believe the Dom are descendants of travelling performers who migrated westwards from India centuries ago.

A recent study published by the American University of Beirut on poverty among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon noted that most live on about $2.7 per person per day. According to Kristen Hope, TDH Dom project manager, "about 9 percent of Palestinians in Lebanon are living below the poverty line."
By contrast, the TDH/Insan report found that "over 30 percent of the Dom sampled are living on less than one dollar a day."

According to think-tank The Dom Research Centre, few Dom in the cities have steady jobs, and can be seen begging in the streets, playing drums, flutes or other instruments at weddings and parties, fortune-telling and doing manual labour.

Shanty towns

Insan Association and TDH interviewed Dom community members in four locations, and found that many live in rudimentary shanty towns where most homes are not connected to a sewage network. Most mothers are deprived of maternal health care and many children faced neglect by parents struggling to make ends meet. Some 68 percent had never attended school.

"An indication of the depth of the prejudice faced by the Dom is a desire to leave behind their ethnic identity," said Hope. Demonstrative of this is the fact the Domari language is rapidly losing ground to Arabic, she told IRIN.

"Half of the adults but only a quarter of the children we interviewed spoke Domari," she added. "Language is a marker of their ethnic identity and it seems parents are trying to suppress it to protect their children from the discrimination they experienced."

TDH and Insan Association were unable to estimate the size of the Dom community in Lebanon, but their research suggests there are 3,112 living in the Lebanese cities of Beirut, Sidon and Tyre. "Many more Dom communities exist within Lebanon, particularly in Tripoli and the Bekaa," Hope said.

Unlike refugees or the Bedouin, with whom they are often confused, the Dom were granted naturalization in 1994. But despite enjoying citizenship rights, the Dom community faces even greater marginalization than Palestinian refugees and is ignored by almost all NGOs, the report said.

The children, in particular, are vulnerable to violence, chronic malnutrition, child marriage, dangerous working conditions and exploitation. Many community members are also reluctant to access public services like health care or education because of their perceived secondary status.

Until recently the Dom of Lebanon were a nomadic people. Since naturalization, however, most have settled down and started enrolling their children in school, Hope said.

"Ten years ago, our family used to be afraid of enrolling children in school," said one Dom man living in the Bekaa's Bar Elias area. "We were afraid we would be arrested or be refused because people think we are afraid of science. Now we are trying to enroll our children in school." (IRIN)


On 14 July, 1921, Italian born Anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were cnvicted, in Boston,  of murdering a shoe-company paymaster and his guard.

Actually, they had been accused of murder and convicted of Anarchism.

The common scapegoats at the time were working and poor people,  immigrants, Communists and Anarchists.
This was also the time of the Red Scare, the infamous Palmer raids against political radicals, and the rise of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.

It's interesting how very little things seem to change.
Today's scapegoats in the U.S. are working and poor people, immigrants, Muslims, and political activists.

And the beat goes on......

The following is an interesting site for more information on Sacco and Vanzetti and the times.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011



Police arrest suspects in attempted arson in Býchory, Czech Republic

Police have arrested four people suspected of throwing a flaming torch into a Romani home yesterday in Býchory, Kolín district. Soňa Budská, spokesperson for the Central Bohemian Regional Police, reported the arrests to the Czech Press Agency today. Those detained, who are between the ages of 20 and 25, are being prosecuted on suspicion of complicity in the crime of attempted grievous bodily harm. Policie officers are also investigating racial motivation for the attack.

Police arrested all four suspects on Monday afternoon. "Since morning the detectives have been performing other procedural tasks in this matter. They will be filing a motion to have the detainees remanded into custody," the spokesperson said.

She refused to say whether the suspects are members of extremist movements or to give any other details, given that the investigation is ongoing.

In the early morning hours of Monday a flaming torch was thrown into a Romani home in Býchory, Kolín district. No one suffered physical injury. Someone threw the wrapped stick, resembling a torch, into the living room. The victims managed to put out the fire.

After initiating their investigation, detectives determined that a group had marched through the village in the early morning hours shouting racist slogans, and that one man from that group then threw the flaming torch into the Romani people's apartment.

Should the suspects be charged and convicted of racially motivated attempted grievous bodily harm, they would face as much as 12 years in prison.

The most famous racially motivated attack against Romani people in recent years remains the April 2009 case in which four right-wing extremists threw three Molotov cocktails into a single-family house in Vítkov. During the subsequent blaze three people were injured.

An infant who was not yet two years old at the time suffered the most serious injuries.

In March the court sent the perpetrators to prison for sentences ranging from 20 to 22 years. Not quite one year after the Vítkov case, a similar attack on a Romani home was committed in the Bedřiška settlement of Ostrava.

However, in this case the court ruled that the motivation was not racism, but a dispute between neighbors. In March the court sent the juvenile perpetrator to prison for four years, while his mother was sent to prison for 7.5 years for having instructed him to commit reckless endangerment.
Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert