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Government Decision Regarding the Maticní Street Wall
27-05-1999
Radio Prague, May 27th - On Wednesday the Czech government made a decision to prevent the building of a controversial wall in the north Bohemian city of Ustí nad Labem. The planned wall which was to separate inhabitants on Maticní Street has attracted international attention. Linda Mastalir has the details.

The Czech government on Wednesday decided to block the construction of the planned 2 meter ceramic wall in Maticní Street, Ustí nad Labem. The wall was supposed to separate tax-paying house owner's on one side of the street, from a subsidized housing estate inhabited primarily by Romas on the other. I spoke to Andrea Varsová from the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights about the decision:

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Government spokesman, Libor Roucek, stated that the government refuses to negotiate on any point that incorporates, or can evoke, racial discrimination or segregation. Cultural Minister, Pavel Dostál, added that the government is against the construction of any sort of wall. The government in its decision agreed with the opinion that the construction of the wall is illegal and has the character of segregation.

Children playing along the fence which the city means to replace with a wall

Pavel Tosovský, councilman for the Ustí district Nestemice, said that the government decision indicates a concern for the human rights of only one group - the non-paying Roma dwellers - and ignores the rights of the neighbouring house owners. Tosovský added that there were a series of mistakes leading to the government decision, above all that the government did not have the courage to stand against the pressure being exerted upon it in recent days:

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Tosovský also complained that no one from the Ustí region was invited to participate in the government meetings.

It is the hope of the Czech government that the inhabitants of Maticní Street will come to a reasonable agreement and not proceed with the wall's construction. International organizations such as the UN Commission for Human Rights have been following the developments in Ustí nad Labem, and have been encouraging the Czech Republic to deal with the issue promptly.



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