ODS Debates Firing Okamura from Leadership Post for Holocaust Denial

Prague, Feb 13 (CTK) – Czech Civic Democrat (ODS) lawmakers incline to supporting the proposed dismissal of Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura as a lower house deputy head, ODS deputy chairwoman Alexandra Udzenija said, adding that they will discuss the issue at their nearest meeting.


Earlier this month, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) proposed that Okamura be sacked over his comments downplaying the suffering of people in the wartime Roma internment camp in Lety, south Bohemia.


KDU-CSL deputy chairman Jan Bartosek said after meeting ODS representatives today there is a big chance of gathering the 80 signatures that are required for the proposal to sack Okamura to be put on the agenda of the next lower house session.


ODS deputy chairman Martin Kupka told the media that he would support the sacking of Okamura.


Udzenija said she expected the rest of the ODS’s 25-strong group of deputies to do so as well.


In the past days, support for Okamura’s dismissal was heralded by the Pirates, TOP 09, the Mayors and Independents and some Social Democrat (CSSD) lawmakers, including Milan Chovanec, the CSSD acting chairman who will seek regular chairmanship at the party’s upcoming congress on Sunday.


In January, Okamura said the wartime camp in Lety 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. He insisted nevertheless, that the camp mostly remained unguarded and people could move freely around.


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


Bartosek said today the proposal to sack Okamura aims against the statements not only by him but also by other SPD representatives.


“It is impossible for a party, whose members use words such as ‘a never-existing so called concentration camp’ or whose secretary shouts that Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals should go to gas, to have its representatives in so high a constitutional post,” Bartosek said, alluding to previous utterances by SPD MP Miloslav Rozner and secretary Jaroslav Stanik.


Prime Minister Andrej Babis, whose ANO movement is the far strongest party in the Chamber of Deputies, said last week that Okamura had apologised for his statements, which is why there is no reason to take steps against him.


ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek said he would not support the proposal to dismiss Okamura, but would not anticipate the position of other ANO lawmakers.


The Communists (KSCM) are against Okamura’s dismissal, as is Okamura’s SPD.


ANO, the KSCM and the SPD together have 115 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.