Sunday, 18 February 2018

Families of Roma Holocaust victims suing SPD leader Okamura

ČTK |
9 February 2018

Prague, Feb 8 (CTK) - Cenek Ruzicka, chairman of the Committee for the Compensation to the Roma Holocaust, filed a criminal complaint about Czech Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura and deputy Miloslav Rozner (SPD) over Holocaust denial on Thursday.

The group of about ten relatives of the Roma who perished in Lety, a Roma internment camp in the Nazi-controlled Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, claim compensation for moral damage.

They are of the view that the two politicians violated the law by publicly denying the Roma genocide, Ruzicka said.

Ruzicka said this time his lawsuit against Okamura would succeed better than in 2014 when the police had shelved it.

Society should receive the signal that it is impossible to play down the suffering of people in Nazi camps, he added.

"If I were to receive but a single crown, it should be the symbol that this really happened, this would be a great signal for the society," Ruzicka said.

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, the Museum of Roma Culture and the Lidice Memorial called his words Holocaust denial.

Rosner criticised the purchase of the pig farm near the Lety commemorative site, which the previous cabinet approved with the aim to have the farm pulled 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 a SPD congress last year according to Czech Television (CT).

Okamura then partly apologised for his words.

Ruzicka said Okamura's apology was not sincere. "Okamura is able to apologise in the way he needs," he added.

Earlier this week, lawsuits were also pressed against Okamura by Young Social Democrats and senator Tomas Czernin (TOP 09).

"My mother was imprisoned there along with her whole family. She lost my father there and her first-born baby who was four months," Ruzicka said.

"This strongly affects both me and the whole of my family. I cannot ignore this," Ruzicka said.

Most of his relatives did not survive the Roma genocide.

The European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) also calls for the dismissal od Okamura as deputy chairman of the lower house of Czech parliament.

EGAM head Benjamin Abtan told CTK that Holocaust denial cannot be rewarded by any public post in democracy, even if the denial is moderated by ambiguous statements.

The Roma members of the Czech government council for affairs of the Roma minority demand that Okamura apologise in the public media. The statement Okamura made on social networks was not a real apology, they said.

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.

Nazis exterminated 90 percent of Bohemian and Moravian Roma people.

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