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February 18, 2018
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Czech Christian Democrats want to remove Holocaust doubter from vice-chair post in the lower house

6.2.2018 14:22
Jan Bartošek (PHOTO: Czech Television)
Jan Bartošek (PHOTO: Czech Television)

The Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) are calling for negotiations on removing the chair of the SPD party, Tomio Okamura, from his post as vice-chair of the Chamber of Deputies. Jan Bartošek, KDU-ČSL vice-chair, announced the move to the press today.

Bartošek said the party wants to get 40 MPs to sign off on including such an agenda item on the next session of the lower house when it reconvenes on 27 February. The Christian Democrats are bothered by Okamura's remarks about the Protectorate-era concentration camp at Lety u Písku and consider them to doubt the Holocaust.

"In practice it has been demonstrated that evil always wins when decent people stay quiet. We have decided we will not be silent about these remarks by the representatives of the SPD," Bartošek said.

"We are convinced that it is not possible for such a high constitutional office to be held by a person who says there was no concentration camp at Lety, that people did not die there, and that they were not tortured there," Bartošek said. He wants to reach out to MPs in all other parties seated in the legislature for their support for the motion to remove Okamura from office.

"I presume this matter is so essential that other MPs will join this motion. It is not possible to doubt the Holocaust," Bartošek said.

"It is important to us that high constitutional offices be held by people who honor freedom, human rights and democracy, and who do not distort historical facts," Bartošek said. "Human suffering makes no distinctions as to ethnicity, or religion, or who you interfere with in the political world."

"The situation arising here is beginning to remind us of the 1930s, when several groups of people were being targeted, and we perceive this as an absolutely essential danger to our democracy and to the security of the Czech Republic," Bartošek said. In his remarks last month, Okamura said the camp at Lety had not been fenced and that people had been free to come and go from it.

He then apologized for saying the camp had no fence but alleged that it had not been guarded most of the time and that people had enjoyed freedom of movement inside it. His remarks have been criticized by the Jewish Community of Prague and the Museum of Romani Culture as Holocaust denial.

Last week the Konexe civic association filed a report of a crime with the Czech Police identifying Okamura as the perpetrator. Bartošek has said that his party does not intend to file such a report.

ryz, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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