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September 22, 2020

 

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Slovak Prime Minister says the Holocaust and its Romani victims must be remembered so that its "bloody history" will never be repeated

3.8.2020 14:07
Igor Matovič, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, on 2 August 2020 during a commemorative ceremony in Bánská Bystrica. (PHOTO:  Facebook page of the OľANO movement)
Igor Matovič, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, on 2 August 2020 during a commemorative ceremony in Bánská Bystrica. (PHOTO: Facebook page of the OľANO movement)

Yesterday Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) said we must never forget the "bloody history" of the past, but we must commemorate it to make sure it never happens again. He was speaking on the occasion of European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, which is globally commemorated on 2 August.

The PM emphasized that an important role in that process is played by schools, as acknowledging history and the truth is a basic prerequisite for the elimination of extremism. "The fact that the members of the SS, during the Second World War, mercilessly murdered Romani children, mothers, the elderly, women - this has not been written up in textbooks or spoken of in public. For this bloody history not to be repeated, we must never forget it and we must commemorate it," he said.

"Extremism among young people is frequently caused by a lack of information, by the hoaxes and untruths they learn from the conspiracy theories and disinformation on the Internet," the PM warned. Slovak MEP Peter Pollák (OĽaNO), who is of Romani origin, said that once the Nazi prisoners found themselves in the gas chambers, the color of their skin no longer mattered, because after cremation, the ashes of Jewish people, Romani people, Slavic people and many people of different nationalities were mixed together "just because somebody labeled them inferior."

As the MEP noted in a press release send to the SITA wire service by the information and press department of the Office of the Governmnet of the Slovak Republic, there is no such thing as a "perfect race". "We cannot divide people on the basis of what ethnic group or community they belong to," he said.

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Matovič and Pollák honored the Holocaust and its Romani victims at a remembrance event and by laying wreaths at the Memorial Plaque to the Romani Victims of the Holocaust at the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica. The PM then attended a mass for the Romani victims of the Holocaust that was held in Bratislava at the Cathedral of St. Martin, as well as a gathering of Romani figures at Bratislava Castle.

Slovak Ombudswoman: Violations of fundamental rights and freedoms can recur and are happening in different forms today

On the occasion of European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, in addition to the Slovak Prime Minister and Slovak President, the Slovak Public Defender of Rights, Marie Patakyová, also made a statement. She reminded the public that violations of fundamental rights and freedoms also happen today.

"When we consider the iniquities committed against the Romani minority during the Second World War, we must be aware that grave violations of fundamental rights and freedoms can be repeated and that this is happening today in different forms as well. Examples are the segregation in education or the still unresolved case of the police raid on Moldava nad Bodvou," she posted to social media.

Commemorating the gross violations of human rights against the Romani minority during the Second World War actually is only meaningful if we are able and willing to learn from past mistakes, the Public Defender of Rights said. "It is up to us, to the openness of our minds and hearts, so that through our attitudes and decisions we create a barrier against displays of hatred and intolerance toward Romani men and women. In the final result, that approach can affect us as well. Let's learn from history and not ask 'for whom the bell tolls' - it is also tolling for us. Let's honor and never forget the Romani victims of the Holocaust," she said.

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ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Holocaust, memorial, Památný den romského holocaustu, pietní akt



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