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Commemoration tomorrow at Lety of post-1989 victims of racism on Czech Statehood Day

Lety u Písku, 27.9.2011 11:13, (ROMEA)
Photo:  František Kostlán

On 28 September, a public holiday in the Czech Republic known as "Den české státnosti" (Day of Czech Statehood), a commemorative gathering will be held at the memorial to the former concentration camp for Roma at Lety u Písku to honor the victims of neo-Nazism and other forms of racism since 1989. The ceremony will start at 13:00 at the memorial to Romani victims who perished at Lety during WWII. The event is being organized by Václav Zástěra, Pavel Botoš, Štefan Tišer, Jan Cverčko, Marcel I. Grunza, Antonie Burianská, Drahomir Radek Horváth and Vanda Holubová. News server Romea.cz publishes their joint statement below:

"Let us come together on this important day to commemorate the victims of past events which have left their mark on more than one of our families. Romani nationality - which during the Nazi era meant the Romani language and everything else belonging to Romani identity - was the reason these internment camps were created and the reason our ancestors, grandparents and parents were sent to the concentration camps. Many of them never returned because they paid the highest price. Their final thoughts were of what was dearest to them: Their families, and their homeland - Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia - where their families lived.

Today, 66 years after those events came to an end, it is as if our thoughts have intersected with theirs. We are linked not only to the past, but to the present, where under different names - extremism, neo-Nazism, etc. - groups directly carrying on Nazi ideology are becoming all too visible. These groups are just as dangerous to society now as Hitler's followers were during the first half of the last century.

It is not enough to merely point out that the current state of affairs in society has crossed the line - we must call for a revival of moral values, for these matters to be corrected, and for dialogue on these issues at all levels. There is no room for racism and similar displays in a civilized society. Our meeting at Lety u Písku should make that clear.

There have been too many intolerant speeches. They belong to the past. We are living in this country today, and together, irrespective of ethnicity or race, we will gather to commemorate the patron saint of the Czech Lands, St. Wenceslas, and the Day of Czech Statehood, because we are proud of our country and her patron saint."

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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