Czech police arrest 100 anti-Roma demonstrators

Czech police arrest 100 anti-Roma demonstrators
# 25 August 2013 04:11 (UTC +04:00)

The largest rally was held in the third largest city of Ostrava, where hundreds of anti-Roma demonstrators took to the streets.

Violent clashes broke out when demonstrators hurled stones at police forces, who used teargas to prevent them from entering a district mainly inhabited by Roma people.

Around 60 of the protesters were taken in for questioning, according to police.

Similar but smaller marches were also held in seven other cities.

Human rights activists, meanwhile, held counter-demonstrations in Prague and several other cities.

On August 2, Amnesty International voiced concern over the planned anti-Roma marches in the Czech Republic, where there are fears that the growing influence of far right groups could threaten the safety of the Roma community in the country.

“The government must ensure that these protests do not lead to violence against Roma communities, and that those at risk get the protection they need,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director for Amnesty International.

The Czech Republic's largely impoverished Roma community numbers between 250,000 and 300,000 people.

A poll conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2011 found over 80 percent of the Roma surveyed had experienced discrimination in the past year.

The Roma, also called the Romany, are an impoverished ethnic group that has been persecuted for 500 years. They live mostly in southern and eastern Europe in camps, caravans, or informal settlements.

Between 220,000 and 1.5 million Roma were killed in World War II, and remain the most suppressed people in Europe.

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