ANO Stands Behind Okamura Despite Widespread Calls for his Ouster

Prague, Feb 13 (CTK) – The majority of the government ANO movement will not support the sacking of Tomio Okamura (SPD) as Czech Chamber of Deputies deputy chairman over his statements on the WWII concentration camp in Lety, ANO deputy group chairman Jaroslav Faltynek said after its meeting today.


Interior Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) said it would be more appropriate to introduce a memorial day that would commemorate the victims of the Roma Holocaust than dismiss Okamura from the Chamber’s leadership.


Pelikan said he would suggest August 2, the day on which the last group of Roma prisoners was killed in gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps, to be declared the commemorative day of the Roma Holocaust.


While he previously criticised Okamura over his statements on the Lety concentration camp, saying it was unacceptable to play down the suffering of people who were being killed due to their race, he said today he would not think it was worthy to associate the theme with any type of political struggle.


The proposal to sack Okamura was raised by Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and it is supported by the Pirates, TOP 09, Mayors and Independents (STAN) and a large deal of Civic Democrats (ODS) and Social Democrats (CSSD).


According to Faltynek, the ANO deputy group would not adopt a binding position on Okamura’s dismissal from the post and does not expect to adopt one before the vote either.


ANO, the Communists (KSCM), who also back Okamura, and Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) together have 115 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.


In January, Okamura said the wartime camp in Lety, south Bohemia, was not fenced and people could freely move in it. Later he admitted that there had been a fence in Lety and apologised for having asserted the opposite, but insisted that the camp mostly remained unguarded and people could move freely in it.


The Prague Jewish Community and the Museum of Roma Culture consider Okamura’s statements Holocaust denial.