The Czech Republic‘s Prima TV is claiming evidence that members of the security forces took part in an attempted attack on the Roma ghetto in the town of Litvinov last week. Some 500 black-masked protesters shouting racist slogans marched Nov. 17 in the town in the country’s northern rust belt where unemployment is at 12%, double the national average. Organized by the nationalist Czech Workers Party, the marchers threw cobblestones and petrol bombs at police, who fought back with teargas and mounted charges. Fourteen people were injured.
Police detectives analyzing video footage of the street battles broadcast on Prima TV have determined that the neo-Nazis used explosives, flares and other materiel only available to the military and police forces, and also used professional military tactics.
The day after the attempted pogrom in Litvinov, a military grenade was used in an attack on a Roma home in the town of Pecs, in Hungary. A man and a woman were killed and their two children suffered injuries when the grenade was thrown through a window. Local Baranya county police dismissed claims that the attack was ethnically motivated—but Hungary’s ombudsman for minority rights, Erno Kallai, accused the police of jumping to conclusions. “We don’t know if this crime was racially motivated or not. But it is not the duty of police to pass judgement on a victim even before it begins its investigation,” he said.
Earlier this month, assailants firebombed two homes and killed a Roma couple in a shooting attack on another in Hungary’s impoverished northeast. A government commission including Roma leaders has been appointed to investigate the attacks. Suspicion falls on the paramilitary movement which has inducted over 1,500 members since its launch in August 2007, is the Magyar Garda movement. Registered as a civic group with the aim of safeguarding Hungarian national values, its members wear black uniforms with insignia similar to Nazi symbols and employs harsh anti-Roma rhetoric (“gypsy crime”). Roma leaders call it a “paramilitary group.” (Politics.hu, Nov. 24; Reuters, Nov. 21; Reuters, Nov. 19; Prima TV, Nov. 18)