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Czech pig farm should be moved from Romany Holocaust site

Prague, 28.1.2009 11:27, (ROMEA)

The pig farm on the site of the wartime camp for Romanies in Lety, south Bohemia, should be removed, Jiri Leschtina writes in the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today in connection with the promise of new Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocab to pull the farm down.

The bad smell from the pig farm filling the air during commemorative events organised at the memorial of the internment camp's victims recalls the unwillingness to admit that it is not only Nazi Germans but also Czech guards who contributed to the death of more than 300 Romanies in Lety, Leschtina writes.

He says the Czech commander of the camp and several pathological guards killed tens of the inmates by beating them up and making them starve and freeze to death even before many of the others died of epidemic typhus.

Out of the 1,308 Romanies who were gradually interned in the camp in the early 1940s, 327 died there and more than 500 were transferred to the extermination camp in Oswiecim (Auschwitz).

The Czechoslovak communist regime decided to bury the memories of the genocide by building a large pig farm instead of the camp, Leschtina writes.

The pig farm is a symbol of the deformed view of the Romany Holocaust: unless the farm is removed, the Czechs continue to show that they have less respect to Romany victims of World War Two than to Jewish victims, Leschtina says.

The problem is similar to that of the postwar deportation of Germans from the country's border regions where they had lived for many generations. The Czechs try to ignore that they have part of the responsibility for the injustice done and crimes committed during the deportation, Leschtina writes.

He says the indefinite discussion on whether the sum demanded by the present owners of the farm as compensation for the removal is acceptable is pointless.

The farm should be removed at any cost because the Romany survivors and the descendants of those who died in the camp wish it, Leschtina points out.

Kocab should remember his excellent mixture of diplomatic skills and firmness thanks to which he pushed through that Soviet troops left Czech territory in the early 1990s, Leschtina writes.

He says Kocab has a hard nut to crack, recalling that Kocab's predecessor Dzamila Stehlikova and all government human rights commissioners, including Petr Uhl and Svatopluk Karasek, have so far failed to get rid of the pig farm despite their efforts.

CTK
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Czech republic, Lety u Písku



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