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Roma activists thank tree for halting construction of Usti wall
01-09-1999
Radio Prague, September 1st - Human rights activists say a tree has thwarted plans to build a controversial wall in the North Bohemian city of Usti nad Labem.

The wall was to replace a metal fence which runs down the middle of the city's Maticni street. The local council decided to build a wall after residents of private houses on one side of the street complained about the noise and rubbish produced by Roma inhabitants, who live in council flats opposite.

The issue quickly became an international scandal, with the Czech Republic being accused of fostering apartheid. However on Monday the district authority overruled the local council's decision, saying that the wall lacked sufficient planning permission. The authority also said it was acting to protect several lime trees in the street. A local human rights activist said one of the trees had been decorated with coloured paper to express the Roma community's gratitude. The local council has since rejected the decision by the district authority.



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