romea - logo
August 16, 2018
extended search

European Grassroots Antiracist Movement calls Czech MP's remarks about Romani genocide site classic Holocaust denial

6.2.2018 8:51
In July 2017 archeological research was performed at Lety u Písku on part of the former concentration camp for Romani people there. (PHOTO:   Tereza Heková,
In July 2017 archeological research was performed at Lety u Písku on part of the former concentration camp for Romani people there. (PHOTO: Tereza Heková,

The European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) has condemned the recent remarks by the chair of the SPD party in the Czech Republic, Tomio Okamura, about the Protectorate-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. Okamura said that he believed the camp had not been fenced and that the people there had been able to come and go freely.

According to EGAM this is "the most classic denial" of the Holocaust of the Roma and an effort to create a parallel history. EGAM President Benjamin Abtan communicated the organization's message to the Czech News Agency on 31 January.

EGAM brings together 40 organizations from around Europe to protect human rights and minorities and defends minority interests at European institutions. "[Okamura's remarks] demonstrate that denial of genocide is a current political problem in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe where it is primarily kept alive by nationalists," Abtan said.

In his view, the Holocaust of the Roma is not yet something about which there is broader awareness, and for that reason it would be necessary to establish a European foundation to endeavor to bring the memories of eyewitnesses and the findings of researchers to the public and to combat the denial of the wartime persecution and murder of Romani people. EGAM called for the creation of such a foundation this year on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January.

Abtan said the international call for such a foundation has been supported by 249 MPs from 28 European countries and by other figures. Okamura's remarks were also made on 27 January during an interview with the online television channel DVTV.

The MP gave his source as a book published by the Academy of Science that he erroneously claimed was called "The Camp at Lety: Facts and Myths" and also referenced a quote from former Czech President Václav Klaus on the issue. According to the Museum of Romani Culture, no such book exists and Okamura's allegations are refuted by documents and photographs from that time.

The Museum also stated that such remarks spark anti-Romani sentiment and trample the memory of the Romani victims of persecution and genocide. The state-funded institution then demanded an apology from the SPD chair.

Okamura has since responded by apologizing for his "imprecision" and urging people to read an interview with a professor who has referred to the genocide at Lety as a "myth". According to historians, the camp at Lety was first opened in August 1940 as a disciplinary labor camp.

The camp was intended for men who were unable to document their incomes to the authorities. People living a traveling lifestyle were also meant to be settled there.

A similar facility existed in Moravia at Hodonín u Kunštátu. In January 1942 both camps were changed into internment camps, and in August 1942 both were then turned into "Gypsy Camps".

From then until May 1943 a total of 1 308 Romani people - children, men and women - passed through the Lety camp, 327 of whom died there and more than 500 of whom ended up at Auschwitz. After the war fewer than 600 Romani prisoners of the concentration camps are said to have returned to Bohemia and Moravia.

According to estimates by experts, this means the Nazis murdered 90 % of the Romani people in Bohemia and Moravia. Despite this fact, more than one Czech politician has doubted whether Lety functioned as a concentration camp.

In 2005, then-Czech President Václav Klaus said Lety had not been a "concentration camp in the proper sense of the word" and that it had not been designated for Romani people but "for those who refused to work". His remark outraged other politicians and Romani organizations.

Okamura made a similar remark in August 2014. The Czech Police investigated that incident but did not recommend pressing charges.

In 2016, during a visit to Varnsdorf, the leader of the ANO movement, Andrej Babiš, who was Finance Minister at the time and is Prime Minister now, said the camp at Lety had not been a concentration camp but a labor camp. He then apologized for his remarks and promised money would go toward creating a memorial there.

agw, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 346x

Don't miss:

Related articles:


Extremism, Holocaust, Lety u Písku, Okamura - popírání romského holocaustu


--ilustrační foto--

Tomáš Ščuka: Romani people need competent representation first and foremost, not Romani representation at all costs

1.8.2018 10:04
I would like to discuss one of the big deficiencies in the Romani community, and that is the active participation of Romani people in political life. Thanks to the existence of online social networks, which make communications and the opportunity to share opinions so easy, we have recently been able to follow different calls to action, discussions, and similar inputs from the widest possible sample of Romani people across the Czech Republic who are frequently expressing their views of the necessity for higher participation by our community and sharing their perspectives.
 full story

--ilustrační foto--

Edita Stejskalová calls on Czech Govt to create the position of Commissioner for Romani Affairs

1.8.2018 6:48
Speaking yesterday at a demonstration in Prague, Edita Stejskalová, a civil society member of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs, called for the Czech Government to immediately create the position of a Commissioner for Romani Affairs. "Romani people do not live in poverty and social exclusion by choice! Romani people are entitled to equal, fair treatment! Romani people do not want to live on the fringes of society! Romani people are demanding that EU institutions and their own Governments educate society to respect the rights of all citizens, and we ask the courts to thoroughly punish advocacy of political opinions based on theories of racial superiority! Romani people demand adequate protection of their lives and personalysecurity, as is guaranteed to all citizens! Romani people demand active, seriously-conceived participation from the national to the international level in decision-making processes," she called on the authorities in a speech that news server is publishing in full translation below.
 full story

--ilustrační foto--

Slovak Govt Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community: Žilina is a textbook example of hate crime

27.7.2018 8:12
The recent attack on Romani people in Žilina, Slovakia, one of whom is hospitlaized with a brain hemorrhage, is a textbook example of hate crime according to the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community, Ábel Ravasz (a member of the Most-Híd party), and should be prosecuted as one. The chair of the Romani Union civic association in Slovakia (ÚRS), František Tanko, says Romani people abroad and in Slovakia are outraged by the racist crime and have announced a protest march in Žilina.
 full story


Každý diskutující musí dodržovat PRAVIDLA DISKUZE SERVERU Moderátoři serveru si vyhrazují právo bez předchozího upozornění skrýt nevhodné příspěvky z diskuse na Ty pak budou viditelné jen pro vás a vaše přátele na Facebooku. Při opakovaném porušení pravidel mohou moderátoři zablokovat zobrazování vašich příspěvků v diskusích na ostatním uživatelům.

More articles from category

romea - logo