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Czech Gov't approves plan to close pig farm at Lety, wants estimate of land value

7.11.2016 15:33
Jan Čech, vice-chair of the board of the AGPI company, which owns the pig farm on the site of the former WWII-era so-called
Jan Čech, vice-chair of the board of the AGPI company, which owns the pig farm on the site of the former WWII-era so-called "Gypsy Camp" at Lety by Písek. (PHOTO: František Bikár, Romea.cz)

The Czech Government has approved a plan to close the industrial pig farm in the vicinity of the remembrance site for Romani victims of the Holocaust at Lety by Písek. Spokesperson Martin Ayrer announced the news on Twitter today without further details.

According to other information, the Government decided today to commission a report on the valuation of the land beneath the farm, where a concentration camp used to be, so the state can purchase the plots. The state has been striving to acquire the location, which is connected with the history of Romani people in the former Czechoslovakia, for many years.

The topic of Lety was not included on the official program of today's cabinet session. "I have been entrusted with undertaking a valuation of the pig farm so we can have some amount to discuss with representatives of the stockholders," clarified Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats).

Herman emphasized that this is the first time the pig farm owners have admitted they would also consider selling the farm directly. Up until now they have preferred the option of the cabinet arranging to build a similar facility in a similar locality for their use.

Resolving the problem has taken years and has been one of the priorities of Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD). The Government has been negotiating with the owners of the farm since January 2015.

According to Dienstbier, the negotiations were sensitive both because of the public interest in the business not operating at that location and because of the owners' economic interests. This summer the owners dd not rule out the idea of selling the farm and were also willing to negotiate about exchanging the farm for a different building appropriate to the rearing of pigs.

The camp was first established as a labor camp and then served during the Second World War for the internment of Romani people, who were considered equivalent to Jewish people by the German Nazi regime. Just like Jewish people, the Romani people interned at Lety were sent to the extermination camps at Auschwitz, where several hundred of them died.

At the beginning of September, Czech Vice Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) faced calls for his resignation over remarks he made about Lety. The Vice PM raised the issue of the camp when he was visiting a socially excluded locality in the Czech town of Varnsdorf.

"It was a labor camp. Whoever didn't work, bam! They were there," Babiš allegedly said.

The Vice PM, who is also Finance Minister, faced calls for his resignation because of those remarks and the Prime Minister also criticized him. Babiš later apologized and promised money for building a memorial there.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Holocaust, Lety u Písku, Lidská práva, Ministerstvo kultury



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