News

 

Justice minister calls on Okamura to stop “polemicizing” about Lety

 
photo:  (Lety pig farm, photo: archive of Radio Prague)
 

Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán has expressed strong concern over Freedom and Direct Democracy head Tomio Okamura’s questioning of conditions at a WW II-era concentration camp for Roma in Lety, South Bohemia. Although Mr Okamura apologized for an earlier false statement about Lety, he continues to question the accepted truth about the camp.

 
 

Mr Okamura apologized for saying Lety did not have a fence but has largely stood by his claims that inmates could come and go as they pleased and that the camp was poorly guarded. He was criticized by the Museum of Romany Culture and Prague’s Jewish community for both the claims and for citing a non-existent study.

The Czech-Romany association Konexe, meanwhile, lodged a criminal complaint, equating his words with Holocaust denial.

The Museum of Romany Culture, which is to take over administration of the site of the former camp in April and wants to build a proper memorial, says verified information about the camp is easily available and that Mr Okamura’s characterization was misleading.

Okamura is not the only one now facing legal action. Fellow party member and MP Miloslav Rozner faces a similar complaint. Public broadcaster Czech TV’s 168 Hours program broadcast an alleged recording of him at a private meeting in December in which he said he would not have “thrown half a billion crowns out the window” to buy out what he said was a ”nonexistent pseudo-concentration camp”.

The government agreed last year to pay around 450 million crowns for the pig farm which stood on the site of the former camp for decades – an insult to the memory of those who suffered or died there. Numerous Czech governments had previously promised but failed to remove the farm.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Pelikán, a member of the former coalition government which negotiated the buyout of the pig farm, and member of the outgoing government headed by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, sent an open letter to Okamura, saying that not only was his information wrong, it was also off the mark. He wrote that regardless over whether there was or wasn’t a fence (there was) or whether it had or hadn’t been difficult to escape from Lety, there was no doubt hundreds suffered under cruel and appalling conditions and died there during WW II.

The minister also called Lety a “last stop” before the Nazi factories of death and asked Mr Okamura not to rate which “tragedy was the more tragic”.

The camp at Lety, opened in 1940, began first as a labour camp for the jobless; a similar camp existed in Hodinín near Kunštát. By 1942, it had been turned into a concentration camp for Roma. Some 1,308 Romany men, women, and children were held there. Three hundred and twenty-seven people died at the site, many from illness and the conditions and more than 500 were sent on to Auschwitz. Mr Okamura responded on Tuesday by denying the criticism and saying he had never questioned that people had suffered at the camp.

The Christian Democrats have demanded Mr Okamura be sacked from his post as deputy speaker of the lower house.

 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 06.02.2018
 
 
 

Related articles

 
News
 
 

Why are there so few Roma politicians...

Whereas in 1990 there were eight Roma MPs in the Czechoslovak Parliment, today there are none and...

 
 
News
 
 

Impact of EU emissions cut target on...

EU lawmakers have hammered out a deal to cut vehicle emissions 35 percent by 2030 in a bid to fight...

 
 
News
 
 

Friends of Tibet group established in...

A “Friends of Tibet” group has just been established by fifty deputies and senators in the Czech...

 
 
News
 
 

Skripal suspects believed to have...

The suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal reportedly...

 
Most favourite

History of Czech fine art

What happened in the realm of fine art at the very beginning of the Czech…

Climate

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical…

The most significant current discoveries

During the last decade, Czech science has made many revolutionary discoveries…

Czech language

The Czech language belongs to the group of West Slavic languages. From another…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…

Traditional Czech products

Czech industrial production has a long tradition, and many products are known…

 
 

Facebook recent activity