France: Intolerance towards Roma Gypsies rising says rights watchdog

Strasbourg, 18 Nov. (AKI) - Violence and intolerance towards the Roma Gypsies is growing across the continent, Europe's top human rights watchdog, The Council of Europe's chief Terry Davis warned on Tuesday. In a statement after a far-right mob late on Monday tried to attack a Roma Gypsy suburb in the Czech city of Litvinov, Davies urged governments to take urgent action to protect the Roma.

"Seventy-five years almost to the day after the Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the Holocaust, a stone throwing mob tried to attack a Roma suburb in the Czech city of Litvinov," said Davis.

On 9-10 November, 1938, the windows of Jewish shops and offices were smashed and premises vandalised, and many synagogues were torched by Nazi stormtroopers in the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht). Approximately 100 Jews were killed, and another 20,000 arrested, some of whom were sent to the newly created concentration camps

Fifteen policemen were wounded in Monday's clashes in Litvinov, as they used batons and tear gas to push back rioters from a 500-strong rally of the far-right Workers Party who hurled petrol bombs and stones.

"I congratulate the Czech authorities on their determination in stopping the violence," Davis added. But he stressed that the incident occurred in a climate of increasing intolerance and violence targeting the Roma Gypsy community in Europe.

"All Governments across Europe also need to look urgently at the situation of the Roma communities in their countries and act decisively to protect them against discrimination, intolerance and violence," Davis concluded.

The European Parliament is expected this week to vote on a report that is highly critical of the current conservative Italian government's measures towards the Roma. These include evictions from camps in several parts of Italy and fingerprinting.


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