Czech Republic: Three simultaneous neo-Nazi demonstrations in Krupka, Prague and Vítkov
Approximately 100 right-wing extremists participated in a demonstration on St. Wenceslas Day that was convened by neo-Nazis in Prague. Small groups of ultra-right radicals gathered in the lower section of Wenceslas Square before marching to the Edvard Beneš embankment of the Vltava river.
In the town of Krupka, approximately 350 Romani people and their supporters took to streets to counter-protest, and as of 18:15 CET the neo-Nazis were no longer anywhere to be seen. In Vítkov, the leader of the right-wing extremist Workers‘ Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti – DSSS) Tomáš Vandas made his speeches to an empty square.
Approximately 350 opponents of the neo-Nazis gathered in Krupka shortly after 14:30 today. A large number of them were local Roma.
Anti-fascists from Germany had also traveled to Krupka to support the Romani community. The first conflict took place when neo-Nazis began distributing fliers for the right-wing extremist DSSS to the Roma in an effort to provoke them.
„About 70 anti-fascists from Germany responded to the provocation and police were barely able to prevent a physical clash. DSSS newspapers and posters ended up shredded on the ground. The neo-Nazis also lost their DSSS flag,“ a correspondent with news server Romea.cz reported from the scene just before 15:00 CET.
Neo-Nazis from the „Czech Lions“ (České lvi) group had announced the assembly for 14:00, but none turned out a that time. News server Romea.cz learned that the gathering had been postponed until 17:00, at which time not more than 5 people attended.
„We saw approximately 5 neo-Nazis on Mariánské Square,“ our correspondent on the scene in Krupka reported shortly after 17:00, adding that local Romani residents had already dispersed and gone home. „The situation here is completely calm.“
At that same time, the DSSS leader had begun making his speech in Vítkov. Unfortunately for him, no supporters were there to hear them.
„There are about 30 opponents of the DSSS here, Vandas has not attracted anyone else here,“ our correspondent reported. The situation was calm in Vítkov as well.
Only 100 right-wing extremists showed up for the traditional neo-Nazi St. Wenceslas Day demonstration on Wenceslas Square in Prague. „Small, straggly groups are standing around and discussing things. A couple of people are holding banners reading ‚Stop totalitarian laws‘ or ‚National identity, not globalized gray masses‘,“ a camera operator for news server iDNES.cz reported.
The protesters, recruited from the Workers‘ Youth (Dělnická mládež – DM), the K 213 association, and the Serbian Radical Party, took advantage of the occasion of St. Wenceslas Day to remind people of various national interests they believe are being suppressed. The subsequent parade took place without incident and the participants dispersed shortly after 15:00 in front of the Office of the Government.
The neo-Nazis‘ banners also read „Against capitalism and neoliberalism“ and „Socialization instead of cuts!“ In their speeches, those addressing the demonstration rejected being described as radicals.
Some speakers claimed they just wanted to draw attention to national traditions prior to the upcoming parliamentary elections. Columnist Adam B. Bartoš, for example, called on people to vote for parties with „pro-national“ interests.
Elsewhere in his speech on Wenceslas Square, Bartoš also said he would be in favor of restricting voting rights and would even take the franchise away from certain groups. Representatives of the Serbian Radical Party also made speeches, and their promoters at the demonstration declared that Kosovo belongs to the Serbs.
After the speeches, a collection was taken up for the European Solidarity Front for Kosovo. During their subsequent march through the center of the Czech capital, the demonstrators were escorted by police officers and chanted slogans such as „Down with multikulti!“ (i.e., multiculturalism).
A peaceful assembly of roughly 40 people gathered on Jungmannovo Square in Prague, a point near the neo-Nazis‘ march route, to protest their exploitation of St. Wenceslas to espouse ethnic and group hatred and incite anti-Romani sentiment. „If the neo-Nazis want to endorse St. Wenceslas, then they should endorse his values. We don’t want exclusion and hatred to be promoted in his name,“ said Professor Martin Putna, whose closing call of „Let’s expel the fascists!“ was rewarded with applause and calls of agreement from those present.
Most of those attending were young people, some in green t-shirts carrying Green Party (Strana zelených – SZ) banners or posters reading „Who are the decent citizens here?“ and „We want a diverse Prague“. The event was convened by the „Let’s Block the Marches!“ (Blokujeme!) initiative and those who spoke represented the church, the Green Party, and the Romani community. Members of the peaceful assembly also „welcomed“ the figure of Prince Wenceslas, said to have risen from his grave today in order to remind those present of his legacy of peacefulness and tolerance in an entertaining little scene.
Putna confirmed to the Czech News Agency that today’s event was planned as a peaceful one, that no one there was interested in clashing with the neo-Nazis, that he finds conflict unpleasant, and that he prefers to lecture inside at the university. „However, when neo-Nazis are marching through the center of Prague on St. Wenceslas Day, then as a Catholic, a citizen, and a literary historian I must be here and say no, no, no,“ he declared.
Romani activist David Tišer told the Czech News Agency that „There is a need, not just for Romani people, but for all of society to stand up against manifestations of racism.“