Field trip report – 28-30 5 2013
Anti-Roma demonstration and riots in Duchcov
dated on 28th of May 2013
After a small, but brutal and highly humiliating incident resulting in minor injuries in the North Bohemian town Duchcov, dated on the night of 18th of April 2013, and the release of a police street camera video of the incident by Czech neonazis about a week later a huge wage of racism once again made Czech Republic a centre of most severe racism. Three local men with neonazi or racist background registered a demonstration against increasing criminality for May 28 2013. The public meeting was joined by about 800 people. For 22 June the Czech neonazi party DSSS announced another demonstration in Duchcov.
On 18th of April 2013 according to a Town Police video and testimonies of participants of a late night brawl in Riegrova str., Duchcov. Coincidentally two drunken Roma of minor age ran into a “white” drunken couple going home from a local discoteque through a street inhabited mainly by Roma. One of the boys provoked a conflict with the man right in front of a police station in Riegrova street. They cursed at each other and one of the Roma guys went to get a branch of young wood and slapped the man in the back. Then the man grabbed the branch and slapped one the Roma boys on his ear. His wife tried to convince him to quit shouting and pulled him away from the scene without any success and then went to the close police station asking for help. According to the police the Town Police officer, who was inside the building did not open the door nor intervene anyhow. Reportedly he called a car patrol that was on duty at night.
Suddenly two women of about 30 years age, who were participating a birthday party close by, ran out of their house wearing slippers, entered the scene and began to attack the “white” woman by kicking and punching her. When she fell down on the street, one of the Roma women kicked her into her head, the other one pull her by her hair and all the motions were highly aggressive. So far it is not known, what was the trigger of the conflict.
When a police car patrol arrived, the attacked woman stood up and went to the patrol without showing any blood or major harm. The Roma had gone home meanwhile. State police later managed to identify the Roma participants of the brawl and accused five of them of the age of 16-44 years for an attempt of GBH. Its request for custody prison was refused by the custodial judge. The “white” man was not accused to take part in the conflict, even though it is obvious that he had taken part in it actively.
The video and the new wave of racism
About a week later the street camera video shot by the Town Police was published by an unknown person reportedly at first on a neonazi server. It was titled “The attack of Duchcov – what the media did not show you”. Certainly it was not released in whole length and did not show that the woman was evidentially not injured seriously when she went to the arriving police patrol.
The video became a hit on the internet within a few days (up to date almost 250 000 call ups). The internet chats below the video was endless and full of the worst racist slurs against Roma. Everyday there were new versions with more comments. Vít Bárta, MP and head of the Czech populist party VV, right away called for a new bill allowing armed self-defence.
The demonstration, the failed attempt of a pogrom and its aftermath
About two weeks after the incident three men with a light neonazi or racist background registered a demonstration at the Town Office of Duchcov for 28th of May 2013.
On the day before a North Bohemian Roma activist and me went to visit the Roma community in Duchcov in order to find out what had happened and what to expect for the day after. We spoke to the father of one of the Roma woman involved, whose house in Bratří Čapků street has become the main target of hate in town.
The whole Roma community was drowning in fear, apparently they were however prepared to defend their families in case of need. There was no NGO organizing any resistance. A local pro-Roma organisation working mainly with children however told the Roma not to send their children to school on the day of the demonstration. Later we found out that the director of the primary school ZŠ Antonina Sochora complained about this, the mayor lady of the town Mrs. Jitka Bártová however apparently praised this idea. The Roma women working for the technical apartment of the Town Office were told not to go to work, but to stay with their children at home.
The day of the demonstration
At noon of 28th of May we went once again to Duchcov. Lots of Roma mothers told us that they were very afraid. Policemen had searched many flats without having any search warrant. They were told to stay at home the whole day and not look at of the windows and or stand there.
In the quarter “downtown”, where the incident took place, lot of Roma got prepared and the men were staying outside in the streets. Short before the demonstration was to start, butts of brooms were hidden close to the entry of a house inhabited mainly by Roma. In a flat inhabited mainly by women and children of all ages I saw a big machete lying in a bedstead for babies. Police had not pulled away dustbins or garbage containers that were full of potential weapons. As we were told later the police began to control all the access roads, stopped cars with Roma and in case they could not proove permanent stay in Duchcov they were send back home. Even young Roma arriving by public transport in Duchcov were stopped and forced to leave the town in case they were not locals.
The demonstration on the main square of the town joined by about 800 people was quite peaceful, the complaints of the speakers were aiming against the “asocial” people, the government and the law system. Even the lady mayor had a short speech, but sometimes she had to face harsh and loud complaints. According to her she agrees with almost all, what had been said by the other speakers. At the end of the about half an hour lasting demonstration one of the organizers said: “I know that you want to hear me saying the words ‘Let’s go downtown’, but I will not use these words. This was a very proper demonstration, let us not destroy the good impression by violence. Please do not go downtown, but go home.” The demonstration was joined by representatives of the neonazi party of other towns, but not by the headquarters. The party had announced that it is only supporting the people of Duchcov and will take own steps of protest in the near future.
A group of about 80 neonazis however decided to go in the direction of the crime scene of the incident and about a hundred ordinary locals followed them. One of them was carrying his little son on his shoulders. The police blocked the crowd about a hundred meters away from the square in the street Míru. Reportedly the crowd began to shout “Czech lands to Czech people”, “You black swine, we will kill you all”. Roma families close by heard the noise and saw the wall of well armed policemen. Full of fear mothers and children cried for the fact that they could not leave their homes and did know what is happening outside.
After about twenty minutes of curses and screaming the crowd turned back and little groups of young people, mainly racists, tried to get close to the crime scene cruising the town. Roma living in the neighbourhood of the main square could not get to their families since the police blocked them as well.
So far we did not hear of any violent attacks relating to the demonstration, the videos of the police are showing however that some of the participants of the demonstration were willing to fight with Roma “downtown”. As far as we know, the Roma families concerned that had suffered severe traumatizing experiences did not get any psychological expert care so far.
The police had no helicopter assisting as usual. It did its best to prevent any kind of physical conflicts. I saw that some policemen were controlling identity cards of Roma. Most possibly they will be accused of a summary offense, in case they did not obey an order to leave the street (summary offense). According to official police sources a hundred policemen were involved and 60 members of a well-armed fast-deployment unit. According to me it was much more.
On the same day the Romani man, who had intervened and finally stopped the incident of 18th of May 2013, was threatened by locals. In case he and his family would not leave his home town, the “Ku-Klux-Clan” will take care of this. In the evening of the same day I heard him saying: “I fuck Czech Republic”. He has a company for construction work and asked whether I could get him work assignments in Germany.
In the streets with a high percentage of Roma population activists tried to announce demonstrations to prevent those areas from neonazi demonstrations (it is only possible to have one action at a place announced in one day). It is jet uncertain, whether there were neonazi demonstrations announced before.
As we were told by a policeman on the spot, another demonstration is planned in Duchcov for 22 June 2013. This will be organized most probably by hardcore neonazis, it is officially and apparently duly registered by the neonazi party DSSS.
On 30th of May 2013, Patrik Linhart, a Czech writer (born 1975, living in Duchcov) published an essay on the official domain of Czech writers (www.czechlit.cz) promoting Czech literature in the world. Under the headline “We are only white powder for them” he wrote: “Let’s stick together, do not be fooled, let’s pay attention to them, let us not forget that the Roma wants to attack and to destroy us”, adding: “As a white Czech and thus the only possible Czech, I am a second-class-citizen inmy own country.” After several hours the webmaster of the server removed the text. On the day after two men being in charge of the portal of Czech literature, apologized for the publication of the text.
Videos of police sources and the internet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN5MsqESEoU [it is seen on the video, that there are people with obviously dresses like the brand „Thor Steinar“, which is famous by nacists]
Video with the end of the conflict of 18th of May 2013, that was cut off in the most popular video:
(this video is embedded within a report of the islamophobic internet newsportal PI news: „political incorrect news“ under the headline „Video: Z[…]-Frauen treten auf Opfer ein“)
Text from an actvist – thank you for making it available for public!