Social Tensions Rise With Anti-Roma Protests
It was a weekend of civil, or let’s say ethnic, disputes against the Roma segment of the population with renowned extremist Marian Kotleba pushing forward with his plan to remove squatting Roma families from his land, and a public march against ‘non-conforming citizens’ taking place in the streets of Partizanske.
The 800 or so Roma living in houses they built on Kotleba’s land in East Slovakia were fearing the worst on Saturday as he showed up to survey the situation and plot out the disputed land borders. Accompanied by a helicopter, hundreds of riot police were on hand to prevent any conflicts, refusing to let the hundreds of supporters who had come to support the initiative into the settlement.
Kotleba is carrying out his plan within the confines of the law, though, and once the borders of his land are established, he will try to remove the illegal dwellings. His actions have received the support of a large part of the public and even politicians, thanks to the core argument that nobody has the right to occupy and utilise someone else’s land. As calls for Roma to conform to society’s rules are on the rise, head of the SaS party, Richard Sulik, even wrote a blog piece on how Slovakia is not a state of law if people can just occupy your land then be protected by the police, instead of the state intervening.
Meanwhile, in the town of Partizanske in Central Slovakia a few thousand people showed up at a protest rally against certain ‘non-conforming” Roma, who the locals feel are not subject to the same rules as they. The rally through the streets of the town had the support of Mayor Jozef Bozik and the town council.
As the rally neared an end, a large group of around 200 Neo-Nazis made a move for the housing scheme where the Roma live, but were stopped short by the police. Partizanske has teamed up with the towns of Handlova and Ziar nad Hronom to organise a common petition to the government to deal with the increasingly tense social situation concerning co-habitation.
Interior minister Robert Kalinak said the government would now take a harder line with issues of this kind, while denying any knowledge that he and others public officials had been invited to the event, as claimed by the town mayor.