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Gov’t council for declaring Roma Holocaust memorial day

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Prague, Feb 16 (CTK) – The Czech government council for ethnic minorities on Friday supported Justice Minister Robert Pelikan’s (ANO) proposal that the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day be declared a significant day, Olga Jerabkova, from the government’s human rights section, told CTK.

Pelikan proposed that the Chamber of Deputies officially declare August 2 the day commemorating the victims of the Roma Holocaust.

On August 2, 1944, the last group of Roma inmates were murdered in the gas chambers of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

The government council expressed thanks to the previous government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) for its effort resulting in the purchase of the pig farm built in place of a former wartime camp for the Roma in Lety, south Bohemia. The purchase contract was signed last November.

A new Roma Holocaust memorial in Lety will be administered by the Roma Culture Museum seated in Brno. The pig farm will be vacated in March. Tenders for pulling down the pig farm and an archaeological survey are to be declared in April and May. The demolition is planned from July to November.

The museum expects to keep one of the pig farm buildings intact to show the disrespect to the victims.

The government council also condemned the recent statements of Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) Tomio Okamura about the Lety camp.

In late January, Okamura said the Lety camp was not fenced, unguarded and its inmates could freely move around. He later partly backpedalled on the issue.

The Roma Culture Museum, the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) and the Prague Jewish Community criticised Okamura and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) proposed that he be removed from the post of lower house deputy head.

The Lety camp was opened in the Nazi-controlled territory in August 1940 as a correctional labour camp for men who could not prove their source of living. In January 1942 it was turned into an internment camp and in August 1942 into a Gypsy camp.

From August 1942 to May 1943, 1308 Roma people were forced to stay in the Lety camp, where 327 of them died and over 500 ended up in Auschwitz.

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