Czech PM says his Vice PM is "leeching off of" anti-Romani sentiment and crossed the line into Nazism
Yesterday Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) said that his Vice PM and Finance Minister, Andrej Babiš, who heads the ANO movement, has decided to "politically leech off of" the Czech Republic's problems regarding coexistence between non-Romani and Romani people prior to the upcoming elections. Sobotka's statement was a response to remarks made by Babiš about the WWII-era concentration camp at Lety by Písek where Romani people perished and from which they were sent to Auschwitz.
News server Aktuálně.cz reported on Thursday that during a visit to an excluded locality in the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf, Babiš said people who "didn't want to work" had been sent to Lety. Sobotka said that remark indicates that Babiš has crossed the thin line between populism and Nazism.
Sobotka posted his statement to Facebook. He wrote that during two and a half years in the coalition Government he has never before noticed a single instance of Babiš taking any interest whatsoever in the issue of socially excluded localities.
The PM also said that the ANO movement has been doing everything it can to delay the design of a law on social housing that is the only way to end the current practice of some housing benefits being abused by unscrupulous landlords. He called the Finance Minister's visit to the Romani locality last week "targeted election theater".
"It's just a question of whether during that visit Andrej Babiš intended to draw media attention in the style of US presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign, or whether he merely forgot to control himself and said what he actually believes," the PM said. A photo journalist for Aktuálně.cz also said that during his Thursday visit to Varnsdorf Vice PM Babiš allegedly said it was a "lie" that Lety had been a concentration camp.
"It was a labor camp. Whoever didn't work, bam! They were there," Babiš allegedly said.
Sobotka said yesterday that the Vice PM's remarks denied both the Romani victims of the Holocaust and documented historical facts. He also said that during the visit to the Romani locality Babiš drew an untruthful historical parallel of which the representatives of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia or today's extreme right would consider themselves proud.
"There is a very thin line between populaism and Nazism. I am concerned that the Finance Minister has now crossed that line with these remarks. The person who wields an absolutely unique concentration of economic, media and political power in our country has now demonstrated that nothing is sacred to him in his quest for votes," the Prime Minister posted to Facebook.
Sobotka has called on Babiš to apologize and to learn some history. "If I were in his place, I would travel to Lety and spend a long time bowing my head before that monument to the children, men and women whose lives either ended at Auschwitz or who were ill-treated in the inhumane conditions that prevailed at that camp," the PM said.
Babiš did apologize for his remarks about Lety during ANO's launch of its electoral campaign in Ostrava yesterday. However, he also asserted that he had just expressed himself poorly and that his words had been taken out of context.
Some Czech politicians, including Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD) have called on the Vice PM to resign over his remarks about Lety. The chair of the TOP 09 party, Miroslav Kalousek, said that if the PM does not dismiss Babiš by this coming Tuesday, TOP 09 will propose including his dismissal as an extraordinary agenda item on the program of the lower house next week.
The camp at Lety by Písek was first created as a labor camp but later served during the Second World War as a place for the internment of Romani people, whom Germany's Nazi regime considered to be on the same level as Jewish people. Just like Jewish people, the Romani people interned at Lety were then sent to the extermination camps at Auschwitz.
- German Vice-Chancellor and Social Democratic chair gives neo-Nazis the finger
- USA: Controversy over conservative radio host's Nazi-like salute at the close of her RNC speech
- Czech Neo-Nazis say they want to "enforce the law" - even as they break it
- Emílie Žigová: Czech ethnologist's rhetoric reminiscent of the Nazi era
- USA: Neo-Nazis, racist KKK clash with opponents in California at demonstration, nine hospitalized
- Slovakia: Neo-Nazis assemble for hate demonstration, but many more counter-demonstrate against them
- Czech President calls DSSS party neo-Nazis, they say he parrots them on issue of migrants
- Germany: Romani refugees occupy Berlin memorial to Roma murdered during Nazism, police intervene
- Cyprus: Orthodox Church leader welcomes election of neo-Nazi MPs
- Germany: British neo-Nazis tweet photo of themselves giving the Nazi salute at Buchenwald
- Austrian neo-Nazi massacres festival-goers
- Čeněk Růžička: Relatives of the Romani victims of Nazism and survivors disagree with anti-refugee sentiment
- Czech Republic: Five charged for neo-Nazi assault on demonstration in favor of receiving refugees
- Czech Republic: Traditional commemoration of the Romani victims of Nazism next week at Lety by Písek
- Czech Republic: Neo-Nazis try to provoke local Roma in Přerov during 1 May protest
- Czech Government condemns vandals for painting Nazi symbols around Prague
- Czech Republic: 2 000 demonstrate against racism in Prague after neo-Nazis graffiti "HateFree" cafés
- European Parliament is financing neo-Nazis even after rules change
- Czech Republic: Seven-year anniversary of neo-Nazi arson attack on Romani family home in Vítkov
- Lety after the Romani genocide, Part Three: The 1990s pave the way to a price tag of half a billion crowns
- Czech Police ask lower house to lift immunity on MP who called Romani genocide site a "non-existing pseudo-concentration camp"
- Lety after the Romani genocide, Part Two: Survivors erect a cross, protests against pig farm ignored
- Demolition of pig farm on Romani genocide site in Czech Republic to take place in 2019, new memorial to open in 2023
- Czech Police must re-investigate one MP for Holocaust denial, but head of ultranationalist party will not be prosecuted
- Lety after the Romani genocide, Part One: Local authorities wanted to build another camp there for Roma after the war
- Czech Police: Anti-Romani signs at Romani genocide memorial in Lety were approval of genocide, perpetrators face three years in prison
- Čeněk Růžička: Is it so hard to grasp that we Roma want to witness the opening of our people's burial sites?
- VIDEO: Chair of Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic on the archaeological findings there
- Czech prosecutor to review police decision not to charge politicians over remarks about Romani genocide site
- Commentary: Actual risk now exists that deniers of the Holocaust of the Roma could join the Czech Government
- Czech archaeological samples yet to find exact location of victims' mass grave at Romani genocide site