Romani residents determined to stay in their homes despite eviction notice
After the deadline for evacuating condemned buildings in Ostrava’s Přívoz district passed on Saturday night, around twenty five Romani families remained in their homes and have been carrying out minor repairs in an effort to get the eviction order reversed. Authorities visited the site on Monday to evaluate the state of each building, warning residents that they are remaining at their own risk. Radio Prague spoke to Kumar Vishwanathan from the Ostrava-based civic group Co-existence who had spent almost a week in the Přednádraží ghetto with these families. Here is how he explained the situation there right now.
“There is also the big problem of the sewage system, which is the fundamental problem, from our point of view. And that belongs to primarily to the city authorities. The city authorities, having known the situation for almost twenty years, have not done anything. For the past two and a half years the situation has gotten so bad that the sewage system has completely collapsed.
“The residents are being put under a lot of pressure and health threats because of the failings of the city authorities. These people are saying that they don’t want to go anywhere. These houses are their homes. They think that they have to be renovated, they can be salvaged. There is civic disobedience going on.”
Do these tenants have legal ways of fighting for their rights in this case?
“It has to be solved in Ostrava, by the Ostrava authorities. What we feel is that there are shady deals going on behind the scenes to get rid of the people and use the land for other purposes for industrial purposes. Because the site is very well situated, it has good access to the highway, with good access to the railway connection to Poland, the Baltic and Germany. People think there are other interests especially some town councilmen are involved in business entrepreneurship. They are basically businessmen.”
And there is enough support at this point from organizations like yours for the tenants to remain there?