Interview with Romani family attacked by racists in Býchory, Czech Republic

Racists have struck in the Czech Republic again, this time using a flaming torch in Býchory, Kolín district. During the early morning hours of Monday, the torch was thrown through the living room window of the family of Eva Douchová and Milan Demeter. Some media have incorrectly reported that the torch was put out by their nine-year-old son. He was in fact asleep, and the torch was put out by an adult friend of theirs who was watching television in the living room. In addition to a son, Douchová and Demeter also have a young daughter. „We were lucky they threw it into the living room – if they had aimed for the next window over, that’s where the children sleep, right beneath the window,“ Eva Douchová told news server

Q: How do you feel after this attack?

Eva Douchová (ED): Understandably, we experienced the greatest fear yesterday, but even now it’s still not right, I can‘t fall asleep even at my mother’s house. I‘m afraid to fall asleep with an open window. I wouldn‘t wish this experience on anyone, not even on my worst enemy.

Milan Demeter (MD): Today it’s a little better, but I can‘t sleep either, I keep thinking about it.

Q: Why do you think the assailants did this?

MD: I have no idea, I don‘t understand it. I‘ve lived there 10 years and there have never been any problems.

ED: We have never done anything to anyone. I even read on the internet that many people around us didn‘t even know that Romani people live in the village. I‘ve lived there five years.

MD: We have always gotten along well with everyone. People in our neighborhood also don‘t understand why they did this to us. We‘re quiet types, we don‘t have any problems coexisting with the others.

Q: You‘ve already had problems with one of the assailants, though.

ED: He had a problem with my nine-year-old son, who was riding his bike in the road. That assailant once told me that the next time he saw my son, he would turn on the radio and wouldn‘t stop until he‘d run him over. After we exchanged words he grabbed me from behind, spun me around and punched me twice in the face.

Q: Are you considering leaving Býchory, moving away?

MD: The apartment we are living in is ours, we bought it. We are paying it off regularly every month, we have no debts. We are afraid to live there now, but we can‘t afford other housing, substitute accommodation. We can‘t stay with our relatives or friends forever. We still don‘t know what to do.

Q: So you will probably return to Býchory. Even though the police want to provide you protection, that won‘t last long.

ED: I am counting on the police protection lasting 14 days. What will happen after that, we don‘t know. The only thing to do, I guess, is to sell the house once we‘ve paid it off and buy something else somewhere else.

Q: Do you believe it will be better elsewhere?

MD: We hope so.

Q: Until this attack you had never encountered any racism?

ED: No – just when I was in school, my fellow pupils cursed me for being a Gypsy, otherwise, no.

Q: [to MD] You don‘t look Romani – what has it been like for you?

MD: My father is Romani, from Slovakia, but I have never had any problem with racism, everyone has treated us decently everywhere. We know about neo-Nazis and racism from television, like the case of Natálka who was set on fire in Vítkov.

ED: As far as I know, in my family only my brother has had problems with racists. He was attacked by a group of skinheads at a car campsite. They sliced his head open hitting him with some sort of rod, he was completely beaten up. He fled in his car, but because he had been drinking alcohol, he crashed. He managed to avoid the tents and crashed into a column. Today, he has been convicted of crashing his car and the skinheads were never punished for what they did. The police officers aren‘t investigating the reason he got into the car – the attack, that is – they didn‘t even write it up in the protocol.

Q: Some media have reported that your nine-year-old son put out the flaming torch that was thrown into your living room. This information is being reported in the spirit of „Look at this, a Romani child was awake in the middle of the night and watching television without his parents‘ supervision.“

ED: Exactly. According to the media we look like Gypsies who don‘t take care of their children and put them to bed at night, but he didn‘t put out the fire. An adult friend of ours who was here on a visit put out the torch. Our son was asleep, naturally.

Q: How will you get to work now that you‘ve left your home, is it a long commute?

MD: On the internet they‘re writing that we are Romani people who do nothing but lounge around, but all of us work. Eva was a cashier in a store and she is now on maternity leave, and I‘ve been a truck driver for 10, 15 years. I commute into Běchovice where we have a garage.

Stand: 13.07.2011