Czech anti-Roma protests end in arrests

Far-right activists in Plzen. 24 Aug 2013
Image caption About 400 far-right activists marched through the city of Plzen

Hundreds of far-right activists have staged anti-Roma marches in towns and cities across the Czech Republic.

In some areas, stones were thrown at police who responded with tear gas. At least 75 arrests were made.

Amnesty International expressed concern earlier this month over the planned marches, urging officials to protect the Roma community.

The Roma are among the poorest people in Czech society and Roma leaders often complain of endemic discrimination.

The worst clashes during Saturday's seven rallies took place in Ostrava and Ceske Budejovice, Radio Prague reported.

In both cities, the marchers left the approved route and tried to reach areas with large Roma populations.

Image caption The rallies drew counter-demonstrations, like this one in Plzen

In Ostrava, around 600 protesters pelted police with stones and at least 60 people were detained.

In the city of Plzen about 400 people took part in an anti-Romany march and about 15 arrests were made, local media reported.

Human rights activists staged counter-demonstrations in several cities including the capital Prague.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International warned that anti-Roma feeling in the Czech republic was getting worse.

"We have seen a deeply worrying trend over the past year with entrenched discrimination against Roma reaching new heights. This is a fundamental issue that the Czech authorities can't ignore," said Amnesty International's John Dalhuisen.

In 2010, four right-wing extremists were jailed for an arson attack on a Roma family in Vitkov in which a child was severely burned.

The Czech Republic has a Roma population estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000.

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