Czech Republic: Director of the Lidice Memorial stands by his remarks about "inadaptable" Roma
Several human rights associations and Romani organizations have recently complained to the Czech Culture Ministry about the head of the Lidice Memorial, the body also in charge of the monument to the victims of the Roma Holocaust at Lety by Písek. The civil society groups say director Milouš Červencl has made light of recent manifestations of racism and has incited hatred against Roma.
The eight organizations and representatives of the Kladno cell of the Czech Freedom Fighters' Union have sent a letter to the Deputy Culture Minister over Červencl's recently quoted remarks. News server Romea.cz published the letter in full translation (see http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/czech-republic-ngos-call-for-dismissal-after-director-of-lidice-memorial-collectively-blames-roma-as-indaptables).
Červencl has since told the Czech News Agency that he stands by his remarks. Responding to a survey by the daily Právo asking "Are Czechs racists?", he responded that they are not and went on to say the following:
"...what people here cannot identify with and do not tolerate are our inadaptable fellow citizens, especially when they do not respect our customs, general order, and our laws, and when they abuse the broad social welfare system established by the state, to say nothing of committing crime. This concerns our coexistence with Romani people, which is very often problematic, but to construe it as a manifestation of racism is misleading."
Representatives of the Statewide Association of Roma in the Czech Republic (Celostátní asociace Romů ČR), the Czech Helsinki Committee (Český helsinský výbor), the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu), In IUSTITIA, ROMEA, and other organizations, including two chairs of the Kladno organization of the Czech Freedom Fighters' Union, were outraged by Červencl's remarks about Roma. In their view, he has "for all intents and purposes ... label[led] all of them as work-shy 'inadaptables'."
The authors of the letter are convinced that the head of these memorials to the victims of the Holocaust and of Nazism is making light of the current situation in the Czech Republic. At a time when anti-Romani marches are being frequently held in the country, they charge him with perpetuating grudges and xenophobia.
His critics believe that Červencl, who runs the memorials at Lety, Ležáky and Lidice, is unprofessional and should not be managing the institution. They also charge him with behaving insensitively toward the victims' relatives and toward those who survived these wartime tragedies.
"We cannot imagine him remaining in this post under such a situation," the civil society representatives said in their letter. In their view, Červencl should also apologize for his remarks about Romani people.
Červencl has said his response to the survey was evidently misunderstood and he does not see anything wrong with it. "I stand by what I said," he has declared.
The relatives of the Roma victims of the Holocaust as well as several other Roma organizations also criticized the Lidice Memorial for its administration of the Roma Holocaust remembrance site at Lety at the start of this month. They charge the institution with not administering the site appropriately or sensitively.
The Roma relatives of the victims say they are bothered by the description of Lety posted to the website of the memorial as well as by the information signage at the memorial, neither of which mentions the pig farm that still stands on the site of the former Nazi concentration camp for Roma. They have called on other Roma people not to attend events convened by the Lidice Memorial management at the Lety site.
The relatives of the victims at Lety are also insisting that the industrial pig farm be removed from the site. Červencl previously dismissed their objections, saying that the memorial is well-maintained, that the texts on the information placards were approved by experts, and that both the government and the Romani people who attended the recent commemorative ceremony there on 2 August praised the event.
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