Saturday, 18 August 2018

KDU-ČSL wants Okamura removed from Chamber leadership

ČTK |
7 February 2018

Prague, Feb 6 (CTK) - The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) want to remove Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura from the post of deputy chairman of the lower house of Czech parliament because he is challenging Holocaust, KDU-CSL deputy head Jan Bartosek told journalists on Tuesday.

"We believe such a high constitutional post cannot be occupied by somebody who says the Lety camp was not a concentration camp, people did not die there and were not tortured ," Bartosek said.

Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) on Tuesday called on Okamura to stop making incorrect statements about the concentration camp for Roma in Lety, south Bohemia. In reaction, Okamura said he does not challenge the suffering of the people in the camp, but has reservations about the planned commemorative site and the way the state bought a pig farm in its vicinity. The alleged Holocaust denial is a campaign against the SPD, he said.

The KDU-CSL will try to include the vote on Okamura in the programme of the next regular lower house session that opens on February 27. "I assume that the issue is of such importance that other MPs will support it. Holocaust cannot be challenged," he said.

The Christian Democrats occupy 10 seats in the 200-member lower house.

Communist (KSCM) leader Vojtech Filip said his party will not support the KDU-CSL effort to remove Okamura from his post in the lower house leadership, but he rejected any challenging of the Holocaust. Filip is a lower house deputy head, too.

KSCM deputy head Jiri Dolejs said the Roma people from Lety were moved to the extermination camp in Auschwitz (Osviecim). "It is minimally very indecent to downplay something like this," he said.

The right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) said they might support the KDU-CSL proposal if it had sufficient support, ODS lower house group's head Zbynek Stanjura said.

"However, we must be realistic. The ANO, KSCM and SPD have a voting pact with 115 MPs and they elected Tomio Okamura to the leadership of the Chamber of Deputies. The ANO movement would have to change its mind in the first place," Stanjura said.

Social Democrat (CSSD) lower house group's head Jan Chvojka said Okamura went too far with his statements about the Lety camp. He said he would support the proposal, but the CSSD MPs are yet to discuss the issue.

Both small opposition centrist parties, TOP 09 and Mayors and Independents (STAN), declared support for the KDU-CSL proposal.

In January, Okamura said the Lety camp had not been fenced. Later he admitted that there was a fence, but insisted that no one guarded it and the inmates could freely move around.

The Prague Jewish Community and the Museum of Roma Culture called his words Holocaust denial.

Bartosek said the situation starts to resemble the 1930s when some groups of people were labelled. "We perceive it as a crucial threat to democracy and security of the Czech Republic," he said.

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