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Czech Republic: Sparse attendance at Romani Holocaust Memorial Day

Lety by Písek, 2.8.2012 23:55, (ROMEA)
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A mere 12 people attended today's commemoration ceremony at Lety by Písek in honor of Romani Holocaust Memorial Day and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the "Lety Gypsy Camp“. The event was organized by the Lidice Memorial, which manages the Lety site. This is the third commemoration at Lety this year. In May the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu - VPORH) held its traditional commemoration ceremony with the survivors and relatives of those who perished in the camp. In July, the Lidice Memorial organized its first-ever commemoration at Lety, which was attended by Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas.

The reason almost no one participated in the July and August commemorative ceremonies has to due with a long-running dispute between representatives of the VPORH and the Lidice Memorial. In July several Romani organizations even called for people to boycott the event.

Renata Hanzlíková, a staffer at the memorial, says the numerous commemorations are not a problem. "It's not important how many times a year we commemorate this. The more often it can be remembered, the more likely we are to retain our memory of these places, these memorials," she told Czech Radio. "Every date that has something to do with these sites is good to remember. When we look at the statistics on visitors' rates, they are high. During July alone we had more than three thousand visitors there, it's fabulous. It's a very remote location, but people make it here all the same," said the director of the Lidice Memorial, Milouš Červencl. The memorial at Lety is visited by more than 10 000 people annually, approximately the same number of visitors as make it to Ležáky.

"It's a shame not to commemorate the Romani victims. In Ležáky, Lidice and Terezín, the main commemorative ceremony naturally commemorates a significant date, but there are also many other, smaller commemorations held there and no one is bothered by them. I believe that more than one commemorative ceremony at Lety needn't bother us either. The more we commemorate this, the better it is from the point of view of history, and mainly from the point of view of instructing our youth," Červencl said.

Today's commemorative ceremony at Lety was very intimate. Only 12 people attended, including Romani human rights activist Karel Holomek.

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Radio, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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