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Police ready to maintain order during ‘cleaning’ of Roma settlement

Police will use all legal means to maintain order and prevent any crimes from taking place during a so-called ‘cleaning’ operation planned for Saturday by right-wing activists at a Roma settlement in Krásnohorské Podhradie in south-east Slovakia, Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar said on Thursday, September 27

Police will use all legal means to maintain order and prevent any crimes from taking place during a so-called ‘cleaning’ operation planned for Saturday by right-wing activists at a Roma settlement in Krásnohorské Podhradie in south-east Slovakia, Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar said on Thursday, September 27

Marián Kotleba, the leader of the People's Party-Our Slovakia party, has announced his intention to tear down illegal Roma dwellings shortly after being gifted possession of the land on which they stand. Extending invitations to members of the public via the social networking site Facebook, the party expects more than 300 people to show up. The Roma said they stand ready to defend their shacks. "If Kotleba comes here to provoke, we are not liable for the condition in which he leaves," local Roma warned in May, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Gašpar said that the perimeter of the land Kotleba claims to own has not been properly defined by a surveyor, and even the property's original classification as grassland is in doubt. Furthermore, there is a possibility that Kotleba is not the exclusive owner but only a co-owner. Kotleba did not seek the approval or the assistance of the state authorities or courts before deciding to take action against the Roma squatting illegally on the land. Gašpar refused to comment on whether or not the ‘cleaning’ action would be classified as racist oppression and violence against the Roma ethnic minority.

Gašpar also said, according to the Sme daily, that if Kotleba really starts ‘cleaning up’ the Roma settlement, the police would intervene.

Mayor Peter Bollo said that the publicity was damaging his municipality’s reputation and harming tourism and the local economy. He said that as of Thursday, no plan to hold a mass meeting had been reported to the municipal office – which, according to the law, must be done five days before any event, at the latest. Kotleba insists there will be no meeting, only a ‘cleaning activity’, and called on volunteers to bring shovels and axes.

Sources: TASR, Sme

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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