Czech Republic: Demonstration at Terezín will demand Romani victims of Holocaust be honored
During the commemorative ceremony on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on 27 January, a demonstration demanding that Romani victims of the Holocaust be honored will take place at Terezín. The protest is being convened by the Konexe association, which among other things has long fought to see the pig farm on the site of a former concentration camp for Roma at Lety by Písek be removed.
Miroslav Brož of the association told the Czech News Agency that the demonstration will be peaceful. More than 30 heads of parliaments from around the world will visit Terezín at the end of January.
Konexe has announced its demonstration will take place on Pražská Street, a key thoroughfare that runs through all of Terezín, including past the Small Fortress and National Cemetery. "In the Czech Republic the victims of genocide and the Holocaust are divided into two categories The memory and suffering of one category is honored with the respect and reverence they deserve. The suffering of the other group of victims is doubted and relativized and their memory is dishonored. That second group of victims are primarily Roma," Brož said.
According to Josef Miker, also a member of the association, Romani people ended up at Auschwitz during the war as well. "Czech Roma who managed to survive the hell of the death camps run by the Protectorate Government were also transported to Auschwitz and very few survived. I think it is very important today that the Romani victims be mentioned during the ceremony marking the liberation of Auschwitz, that the memory of the Romani victims of the Holocaust be recalled as well," Miker said.
The Czech Republic's commemoration will be visited at the end of January mainly by heads of parliaments, 30 of whom have already confirmed their participation. Of the 14 heads of state invited, only the Bulgarian President has confirmed his participation at the Czech events.
U.S. President Barack Obama has apologized that he will not be able to attend the Czech events. It is still a question whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend - his invitation by Czech President Miloš Zeman sparked passions and the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Czech Republic distanced itself from the invitation - and it is also not clear whether French President François Hollande or any of the other heads of state invited will attend.
The Czech commemoration of the anniversary will last two days: On 26 January an international forum will be held at Prague Castle on the rise of anti-Semitism and extremism in the world. The next day President Zeman and other important guests will speak at Prague Castle in the morning and a commemorative ceremony will take place at Terezín in the afternoon.
The Czech delegation to the commemorative ceremony at Auschwitz on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi extermination camp will be led on 27 January by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD). Participation at the commemoration in Poland has been confirmed by the heads of a dozen states including the Presidents of Austria, France, Germany and Poland.
Putin, who has been sharply criticized by Warsaw over Moscow's engagement in the crisis in Ukraine, is not planning to visit Auschwitz. The Kremlin says he was not invited to do so, so Russia will be represented only at the level of ambassador.
The camp at Auschwitz, where historians say the Nazis murdered more than a million people, primarily Jews, was liberated by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. Auschwitz became one of the main symbols of the horrors of the Holocaust.
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