Inhabitants of Hrabušice and Spišský Štvrtok, both located in Košice Region, protested against relocating Roma from a Letanovce settlement to newly built blocks of flats situated near their villages, the TASR newswire reported on November 4.
“The gathering was not racially motivated,” Ján Greš, the mayor of Spišský Štvrtok, told TASR. “This is only about expressing our disagreement with moving the people of Letanovce settlement to the newly-built area of Strelníky.”
Greš estimated that around 500 people came to the protest.
The protest remained peaceful, with the attendees agreeing that a petition will follow. Greš said that a petition committee will be set up and the signatures will be submitted to the government proxy for Roma communities Peter Pollák.
Locals say they are worried that if Roma from the Letanovce settlement are moved to the outskirts of their villages, it will result in a higher crime rate, among other problems. Greš also said that the village does not have any significant problems with Roma who already live in the village, as they work with the community, but they fear what will happen when people from the settlements join them.
“We [Hrabušice and Spišský Štvrtok] take care of our Roma people, we integrate them into normal life ... teach them to live responsibly,” Hrabušice mayor Jana Skokanová told TASR. “Conversely, Letanovce village has been addressing the problem since the first moment by segregating them [the Roma] to the outskirts of the village - and now 2km away.”
Letanovce mayor Michal Urban denied claims that he is merely transferring the “problem” to other villages, saying, “these Roma people will be provided with everything they need”. He added that he does not see any problem regarding the relocation, TASR wrote.
The village has already invested around €3.2 million into the new 96 housing units. They have been completed since 2010, but have remained unoccupied until now. Yet, the number of the local Roma from the settlements currently reaches 1,500, therefore further construction works will have to be carried out, for which the village needs an additional €320,000.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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