Protests in Brno Over Okamura’s Holocaust denial

Brno, Feb 15 (CTK) – About 250 people took part in a procession with candles walking through the city of Brno remembering the victims of the Czech Roma Holocaust and denouncing the recent statements by SPD politicians questioning the conditions in the Roma WWII camp in Lety.


The procession’s organisers find such statements an unacceptable denial of the Roma Holocaust, inappropriate with regard to its victims and their families.


“It is our national disgrace,” Roma musician Gejza Horvath said on account of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) politicians’ statements.


Horvath warned against the nurturing of fear and anti-Roma sentiments and against society’s incitement by populist politicians.


The statements were also denounced by Brno Mayor Petr Vokral (ANO).


The Roma flag was carried in the lead of the procession and there were no other banners or chanting.


“We want this to be a peaceful remembrance of the Holocaust victims,” Robin Stria, the event’s coordinator, said.


The procession finished at the memorial to Jewish and Roma victims on the October 28th Square. The organisers also read testimonies of people who went through the camp in Lety.


SPD head Tomio Okamura said in January the camp in Lety, South Bohemia, was not surrounded by a fence and people could move freely around it. Later, he retracted his statement on the missing fence.


In a letter to the Jewish community in Prague, he distanced himself from questioning the suffering of victims in the Lety camp, but he has not directly apologised to the Roma for his statements so far.


SPD MP Miloslav Rozner criticised the recent state purchase of the pig farm in Lety close to the commemorative site using words “non-existing pseudo-concentration camp.”


Both SPD politicians are facing criminal complaints on account of their statements.


Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) have meanwhile proposed the dismissal of Okamura from the post of the Chamber of Deputies’ deputy chairman. An establishment of a significant day to remember the Roma Holocaust has been discussed as well.


Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013) and current PM in resignation Andrej Babis (ANO) have also faced criticism due to their statements on Lety.