Czech Social Democratic head recommends removal of lower house vice-chair because of his deceptive remarks about Romani genocide site
The acting head of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), former Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, has said he will support removing the chair of the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" movement (SPD), Czech MP Tomio Okamura, from his position as vice-chair of the Chamber of Deputies when the legislature reconvenes. The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) are proposing the move because of Okamura's recent controversial remarks about the Protectorate-era concentration camp at Lety u Písku.
Speaking on the "Václav Moravec's Questions" program yesterday on Czech Television, Chovanec said he will be recommending the entire ČSSD club in the lower house also vote in favor of removing Okamura even though such an initiative is not likely to succeed without the votes of MPs from the ANO movement. Last month the SPD chair erroneously alleged that the concentration camp at Lety had not been fenced and that people had been free to come and go from it.
Okamura subsequently apologized for saying the camp had not been fenced but continued to allege that it had not been guarded most of the time and that people had been able to move about freely inside it. Those remarks have been criticized by the Jewish Community in Prague and the Museum of Romani Culture, both of which see them as constituting Holocaust denial.
Chovanec said yesterday that Okamura's remarks had crossed not just one line but "maybe five lines". The ČSSD chair also criticized the KDU-ČSL for attempting to score political points by announcing their intentions to the media instead of discussing them with other political parties ahead of time.
"If there will be a vote to remove [Okamura], I will vote in favor and I will recommend my club do so as well," the former Interior Minister said. Outgoing PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) said on Wednesday that Okamura had apologized, which he considers a sufficient end to the matter.
Chovanec recalled for Czech TV viewers the similar remarks made previously by Babiš himself and by former Czech Justice Minister Helena Válková (ANO), who told the media in 2014 that "not that much happened in the Protectorate". "What will be essential here is what stand the ANO movement takes," Chovanec said.
Without ANO votes, the KDU-ČSL initiative will fail, the former Interior Minister said. A vice-chair of the Chamber of Deputies can only be removed from that post on the basis of a written motion supported by a minimum of two-fifths of all lower house legislators.
Czech MP Jan Bartošek, the head of the KDU-ČSL in the lower house, said yesterday on the "Partie" program of the Prima television channel that he sees a chance of finding the necessary 80 signatures. Support can be anticipated, according to Bartošek, from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Mayors and Independents party (STAN), and TOP 09, while some ČSSD legislators and the Pirates have spoken in favor of the motion as well.
Czech MP Pavel Kováčik, the head of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM), said he will not make any recommendations to the other MPs in his party, who can join the initiative if they like but are not obliged to. The chair of the Security Committee in the lower house, Czech MP Radek Koten (SPD), said in a debate on Czech Television that the KDU-ČSL just want to show off with their motion to remove Okamura.
Koten also repeatedly rejected the labeling of his party as extremist. "The moment you want to tell the truth you end up in some report," Koten said when asked why the SPD movement had been mentioned in the Czech Interior Ministry's report on extremism for the fourth quarter of 2017.
- Vice-chair of Czech lower house refuses to discuss Romani genocide with relative of victims live online
- Former Czech Human Rights Minister says the entire country should campaign against denial of Romani genocide
- Čeněk Růžička reports crime to Czech State Prosecutor, accuses lower house vice-chair of doubting the Romani genocide
- Czech bureaucrat who compared Roma to jellyfish resigns from Social Democrats
- Commentary: Czech Social Democrats compete with ultra-right to see who can be more racist and xenophobic
- Influential Czech Social Democrat wants Human Rights Minister dismissed, exploits refugee crisis to attack Roma
- Czech Social Democrats clean house over local agreement with ultra-right
- EEA and Norway Grants will support building of memorial to Romani victims of the Holocaust at former concentration camp site
- Interview: Patriotism is not the same as hating those who are different
- VIDEO: Commemorative ceremony at the former Lety concentration camp attended by 200 people
- LIVE AT NOON TODAY: Commemoration at the former concentration camp for Roma in Lety, Czech Republic
- Commemoration at WWII-era concentration camp for Roma in Czech Republic to give Award for Humanity in memoriam to Dr Alfred Bader
- Miroslav Kováč, former chair of the Equal Opportunities Party in the Czech Republic, has passed away after a long illness
- Čeněk Růžička on lower house refusing to strip MP of immunity for remarks denying the Holocaust of the Roma: They're playing with fire
- Czech lower house decides not to strip MP of immunity over his remarks denying the Holocaust of the Roma
- Czech lower house committee does not recommend stripping MP of immunity over denying the Holocaust of the Roma
- Czech Police propose indicting two men who desecrated memorial to Holocaust victims of Romani origin
- Terezín Memorial no longer collaborating with controversial head of Czech Freedom Fighters' Union
- Czech MPs avoid round table about the Holocaust and its Romani victims