Police investigate latest attack against Romanies|
At the weekend, two Molotov cocktails (containing a liquid that is yet to
be identified by the police) were thrown into the doorway of a block of
flats inhabited by Romany families in the north Moravian town of Opava. The
incident, which is being investigated as a threat to public safety, comes
just a few weeks after a similar attack on a Romany family in Ostrava.
Sarah Borufka reports.
Late on Saturday night, two bottles containing an unknown substance were
thrown into the doorway of a block of flats inhabited by Romany families in
Opava, north Moravia. The bottles failed to catch fire and didn’t cause
any damage. The police are investigating the incident as a threat to public
A similar attack took place only three weeks ago, in the nearby city of
Ostrava. Unknown perpetrators threw a Molotov cocktail into the room of a
fourteen-year-old Romany girl who was woken by the noise and was able to
extinguish the fire before it could spread.
Though nobody was injured in both recent cases, Czech Romanies says they
feel at high risk from neo-Nazi violence. Last year, the worst arson attack
on a Romany family in Vítkov shocked the country: the family’s
two-year-old daughter Natálka suffered burns on eighty percent of her
body. With the trial of the Vítkov attack perpetrators coming up in May,
Kumar Vishwanathan, a social worker and Romany rights activist, is hoping
for the court to send a clear signal.
“I think it’s really necessary for the courts to make it clear that
such brutal attacks with Molotov cocktails are not welcome in this country,
that it is a grave crime and that it will be punished very severely. We are
hoping that the court will send a clear signal and will be bold enough not
to downplay the significance of this attack.”
Before last year’s highly publicized attack in Vítkov, arson attacks
did not receive as much attention as they do now, says Mr. Vishwanathan.
“Such arson attacks have been happening here for the past ten years. I
think there is a greater sensitivity to this issue now, both from the Roma
community and the Czech public and institutions and the media. So what used
to hardly be reported on in the past, because nobody was really injured,
now it’s being dealt with and people are giving it the necessary
attention and in the past, it used to be ignored or the victims themselves
didn’t even report it. It’s a serious issue, especially in the northern
Earlier this year the extremist far-right Workers’ Party was banned by
the Supreme Administrative Court; many people believe this at least is a
step in the right direction when it comes to combating such violence.
Miroslav Brož is an expert on extremism.
“I think with the dissolution of the Workers’ Party, the Czech state
has demonstrated that it is willing to fight against extremism, and I’d
rather use the word neo-Nazism to be precise, and that it does not have a
place in our society. And I think that the development has been that to a
certain extent, neo-Nazi activities have been on the decline. If you think
back to late 2008 and early 2009, neo-Nazis held marches through Czech
towns every weekend.”