Prague, Feb 5 (CTK) – The Prague Jewish Community has joined the critics of Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) chairman Tomio Okamura’s comments on the wartime concentration camp for Roma in Lety, south Bohemia, and asked him to apologise to the victims for trampling on their legacy.
In a recent interview on DVTV online news broadcaster, Okamura said the camp was unguarded and people could freely move around. He also said the camp was not fenced, a statement he later withdrew and apologised for.
In the past four days, more than 2000 people signed an open letter criticising Okamura, who is a deputy head of the Chamber of Deputies.
On Sunday, Czech Television cited statements deputy Miroslav Rozner made at the SPD’s recent congress closed to the public, where he criticised the state purchase of a pig farm standing on the site of the former camp in Lety with the aim to pull it down.
“Undoubtedly, I would never throw half a billion crowns out of the window for the removal of a well-running company for the sake of a never existing so-called concentration camp,” Rozner told the congress.
The Prague Jewish Community (PZO) called on Okamura to apologise in public for trampling on the victims’ legacy.
“In the same way, it is calling [on him to] apologise to all historians and other experts who deal with the issue for having distorted the information on the concentration camp in Lety,” PZO wrote on its website.
Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy chairman Marian Jurecka has tweeted that a tour of former concentration camps should be organised for SPD deputies and that he is personally ready to co-finance it for the benefit of the Czech nation.
Apart from the PZO, an apology is demanded from Okamura by the Brno-based Museum of Roma Culture.
His statements have also been criticised by the European anti-racism movement EGAM, which called it a clear denial of the Roma Holocaust and an effort to create parallel history.
Konexe, a Czech-Roma association, has filed a criminal complaint against Okamura.
According to historians, the Lety camp was opened by the Protectorate authorities in August 1940 as a correctional labour camp for the men who could not prove their source of livelihood. A similar facility operated in Hodonin u Kunstatu, south Moravia. In January 1942, both camps changed to internment camps, and Gypsy camps were established in both in August of the same year.
From August 1942 to May 1943, a total of 1308 Roma people gradually stayed in the Lety camp, where 327 of them died and over 500 ended up in Auschwitz.
Experts say the Nazis exterminated 90 percent of Bohemian and Moravian Roma people.