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Several hundred whites marched through Varnsdorf on a residential hotel housing Romani people last week before being blocked by police
Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has called a meeting with leaders of the Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic to address rising racial tensions in Northern Bohemia, where members of the far-right Workers Party for Social Justice (DSSS) plan to hold several large gatherings on Saturday that authorities fear could turn violent.
Hundreds of additional police officers will be deployed to the towns of Varnsdorf and Rumburk, where the DSSS has announced that it plans to meet, as authorities expect the gatherings could lead to more violent clashes between supporters of the party and other far-right groups with the Romani (“Gypsy”) minority there. The DSSS also plans to stage a march in the town of Nový Bor.
The Czech Institute for the Detection of Organized Crime (ÚOOZ) has received indications that neo-Nazi groups will attempt to seize the initiative and exploit local people for their own aims, the news server Romea.cz reported, noting that opponents of the extremists and of violence, such as the “Hate is No Solution” initiative (“Nenávist není řešení”), are preparing peaceful counterprotests at the same locales. ‘We will gather near the residences of the poorest Romani people in case some of the marchers decide to attack them.’
“We will gather near the residences of the poorest Romani people in case some of the marchers decide to attack them,” Miroslav Brož, spokesperson for the initiative, told news server iDnes.cz. “We simply do not want the situation to explode. We want everything to aim toward calming the situation.”
In late August, some 1,500 people attended a rally against in Rumburk, ostensibly to protest “rising crime levels” in the town; the protest came in the wake of a series of attacks by Romany residents on white Czechs in the region.
Growing number of Ghettoes
Not long after the fall of communism, politicians, town counsilors and real estate speculators began working together to move Romani people living in state-owned or newly privatized housing out of potentially lucrative locations in town centers.
Regional politicians, such ODS deputy Jiří Šulc, have played the race card in local elections
“Various human rights organizations and think tanks have long warned that the Czech Republic is stirring up an enormous problem for itself by creating these ghettos, of which there are already several hundred, just as it is by segregating Romani children in the schools and adopting ineffective social policies,” Pehe said.
“The people who have been evicted into the ghettos have nothing left to lose, because the ghetto is, for most of them, the ‘terminus.’ There are no (legal) jobs near the ghettos, and drugs, gambling and loan-shaking are the norm there. Children from an early age are learning how to survive in environments where they have never seen anyone hold a regular job.”
German far-right extremists
Last week, several hundred whites marched through Varnsdorf — one of many towns in Northern Bohemnia that has experienced the expansion of the gheottos that Pehe wrote about — towards a residential hotel housing mostly Romani people before being blocked by police. The unauthorized protest was convened by the Czech neo-Nazi group “Free Youth” (Svobodná mládež) to protest an alleged rise in incidences of crime perpetrated by Romani people in nearby Šluknov
Police were dispatched to Rumburk last month
Due to the Northern Bohemian region’s proximity to the shared border, Czech and German police will be work together to monitor the movements of neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists groups. Police patrols have been deployed on roads leading to Varnsdorf and at the German border to search cars for weapons; police officers have reportedly confiscated axes, baseball bats and telescopic batons from cars they searched, Romea.cz reported.
The Czech government has already reinforced the police presence in Northern Bohemia due to clashes between Romani and majority white population. Nečas was due on Friday to discuss increasing funds to support affected municipalities with Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek (TOP 09) and Culture Minister Jiří Besser (TOP 09), and with his Environment Minister, Tomáš Chalupa (ODS).
Rise and fall of Czech far-right
According to a report by the Security Information Service (BIS), the Czech Republic’s domestic state security service, after an earlier period of growth, in 2010 the Czech Neo‐Nazi scene experienced a “deep crisis,” with its development hindered by police interventions in 2009 and by a court decree to disband the Workers’ Party (DS).
The DSSS, sucessor to the banned DS, has changed its tactics
“A campaign throughout society against right‐wing extremists led to a gradual dampening of most of their activities. There was also a change in the structure of the neo‐Nazi scene and its functioning. Fears of additional repressive steps taken by the state led to its fragmentation and atomization. In an effort to prevent infiltration, neo‐Nazis formed smaller and more closed collectives,” said the BIS report, issued this week. “The decline of right‐wing extremism is shown by a striking decrease in the number of public demonstrations.”
Last year was critical especially for the Workers’ Party (Dělnická strana, DS), which was disbanded in February 2010 by decree of the Supreme Administrative Court. “As expected, the role of the DS was soon taken over by its unofficial successor party, the [DSSS], which most former DS members joined,” the report said. ‘The DSSS party leadership began to take special care so that the party could not be publicly connected with the neo‐Nazis.’
“In an effort to avoid further restrictions or another disbandment order, the DSSS adapted its conduct to the wording of the court decree. It adjusted its political program and endeavoured to avoid expressions of belligerence. The party leadership began to take special care so that the party could not be publicly connected with the neo‐Nazis,” it noted.
The BIS report goes on to say that local branches of the DSSS and party leadership have quarelled, due to the latter’s efforts to concentrate all party power in its hands “and not leave the required degree of organizational and budget autonomy to the branches.” “The top party representatives were criticized increasingly often by members active on the neo‐Nazi scene who were displeased by the party leadership’s abandonment of any kind of public support for the neo‐Nazis,” the BIS report said.