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Hundreds of Romani people from around the Czech Republic and Europe to attend 13 May ceremony at Lety by Písek

3.5.2017 15:34
Activists in front of the gates to the pig farm at Lety, Czech Republic in 2014. (PHOTO by Gustave Pursche, from the Konexe archve)
Activists in front of the gates to the pig farm at Lety, Czech Republic in 2014. (PHOTO by Gustave Pursche, from the Konexe archve)

Romani people from all over Europe - and not only they - are planning to assemble on 13 May at the memorial at Lety by Písek to honor the memory of the Romani victims of the Holocaust. The commemorative event is organized by the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holokaustu - VPORH), which brings together the former prisoners of Nazi camps and their family members.

VPORH is organizing a bus from Prague, the Museum of Romani Culture is organizing a bus from Brno, and the visit by guests from abroad is being organized by the network of international organizations in the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) together with the Czech organization Konexe and other partners, who are also organizing more buses for impoverished Romani people from the Czech Republic to attend the ceremonies. "We are anticipating approximately 160 attendees from abroad, predominantly Romani people. Groups will arrive from Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Romania and from countries of the former Yugoslavia. We are also organizing buses that will bring Romani men and women from the impoverished areas of the Czech Republic to Lety on 13 May. We anticipate that more than 200 attendees will come to our event," Miroslav Brož, the spokesperson for Konexe, told news server Romea.cz.

"Our delegation will also include several VIP members, such as Members of the European Parliament or national parliaments. For example, Ms Soraya Post, a Romani member of the European Parliament from Sweden, will join us," he said.

"We will first attend the traditional remembrance assembly at the Lety memorial, which is located near the pig farm and which is organized by survivors and their family members, led by Mr Čeněk Růžička. After the close of that gathering, however, we will leave the place where the memorial is located and take a look at the actual site of the genocide of the Czech Roma. We want to change the fact that most visitors to Lety by Písek will just visit that nice little memorial, which is not even located at the site of the former camp. We want to show our visitors the exact place where the genocide happened. After that we will hold our own ceremony, a common prayer and the laying of flowers at the fence of the pig farm, in the northwestern corner of its campus. That is the place where the concentration camp actually stood. After that, our group will return to Prague by bus where, in the community room of the Žižkostel, we will have dinner together followed by a public discusion and then an afterparty," Brož said.

The chair of EGAM, Benjamin Abtan, points out that neither Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka nor Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš have confirmed their attendance at the remembrance event he is organizing on the 13th. "I am asking Mr Prime Minister Sobotka and Vice Prime Minister Babiš:  Will you keep your promises and actually remove the pig farm from these sites of genocide? We still have not received an answer to our invitation to our international remembrance gathering on 13 May from either of you. At that meeting there will be hundreds of activists and MPs from more than 10 countries. It is precisely that location that will demonstrate what the decisoin of the Czech politicians is, whether the desecration of the memories of the victims and Holocaust survivors will continue at Lety, or whether it will finally come to an end," Abtan said.

PROGRAM OF THE EGAM DELEGATION AT LETY BY PÍSEK

12:00 - 14:00 Lety Memorial - official remembrance ceremony

14:00 - 16:00 - international remembrance ceremony at the northwest corner of the pig farm, tour of the territory where the genocide happened

18:00 -  Žižkostel (nám. Barikád 1520/1, Praha 3) - debate: Romani Pride

19:00 -  Žižkostel - performance by a traditional Hungarian Romani band

Tereza Heková, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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genocide, History, Lety u Písku, memorial



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