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Czech Rep, nationalists disturb act marking Czech Romany wartime victims

29 Maggio 2007 Commenti chiusi

Five members of the far-right Czech National Party (NS) disturbed a commemorative event marking the victims of the wartime Nazi internment camp for Czech Romanies in Lety today. Nationalists got into a verbal clash with the organisers.

The police interfered and expelled the nationalists from the place. During a mass, the NS members displayed banners recollecting Czech policemen who guarded Romanies in the camp and died of typhoid then. The NS banners included slogans as “300,000 Czech victims of Nazism often without a single memorial,” “German labour facility – German responsibility,” and “Czech policemen – victims of typhoid epidemic in the labour camp.”

The nationalist argued they only wanted to remind of forgotten victims of Nazism. However, participants in the commemorative event, including junior ruling Greens deputy Ondrej Liska, said it was a provocation.

Cenek Ruzicka, chairman of the Committee for Compensation of Romany Holocaust (VPORH), organising today’s event, recalled that 326 prisoners, including 240 children, perished in the Lety camp. Part of them died of typhoid, some of hunger, he added.

The VPORH has been in the long run demanded that the pig farm in Lety, built on the premises of the wartime camp for Czech Romanies, be removed. Romany activists point out that it defames the victims’ memory. The EP also called on the Czech Republic to remove the pig farm.

Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (for Greens), who took part on today’s act of commemoration in Lety, pushed for the removal of the pig farm as well. “Since it is undignified to have a pig farm at the place where people were dying.

No other reason is needed,” Schwarzenberg told reporters. The Czech state negotiated with the AGPI company, owning the pig farm complex, in the past, most recently in 2005 under the Social Democrats (CSSD)-led government, but in vain. The current centre-right government originally also planned to purchase the farm.

Though the price was not officially releases, speculation emerged that it could amount to hundreds of millions of crowns. Minister in charge of minority agenda Dzamila Stehlikova (Greens) said previously that the government would not have finances for the purchase.

PM Mirek Topolanek (ODS) confirmed it a month ago. He said that a new memorial should be build next to the pig farm. However, the VPORH opposes the idea. According to historical documents, some 1,308 Romanies were deported to Lety during WW2, while 326 people perished there and more than 500 of its inmates ended up in the extermination camp in Oswiecim (Auschwitz).

© Prague Daily Monitor

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