When it comes to genocide, your words are not enough
Open letter to the Czech PM, Mr. Bohuslav Sobotka, and Deputy-PM, Mr. Andrej Babiš
2014 EGAM delegation to Lety
by Benjamin Abtan, President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM
Miroslav Broz, Spokesperson of Konexe
Jozef Miker, Roma activist from Konexe
Lucie Rybova, Director of the Czech Helsinki Committee
Deyan Kolev, Chairman of the Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance (Bulgaria)
Marian Mandache, Executive Director of Romani Criss (Romania)
Jeno Setet, “We belong here !” Roma community Network (Hungary)
Mr. Deputy-Prime Minister, your declarations regarding the concentration camp of Lety came close to genocide denial. You were right to apologize, but your words are not enough. Mr. Prime Minister, you have rightly condemned these declarations and called for respect to the victims, but your words are not enough.
Indeed, a pig farm has been operating on the site of the concentration camp of Lety for more than forty years. This means a stain on the dignity of the dead and the living, and constitutes a real “locucide”, a crime against the place. This locucide resonates with the genocide against the Roma, the “Samudaripen”, and with the current persecutions which they face. The Czech and European civil society have been jointly involved for numerous years. We have been fighting to relocate the pig farm and to build a proper memorial, in order to replace the stele which was built on the mass graves, deepening the symbolic violence of the site. Despite our proposals, you have constantly refused to work with us in this perspective. You have answered to us by silence and, as your predecessors, to the European institutions by constantly renewed pledges. With no effect.
Today, especially because of this lack of action despite numerous words for so long, the locucide of Lety has become a symbol, throughout the continent, of the lack of respect for the Samudaripen, the victims, the survivors, the descendants and all the ones who fight for human dignity.
Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Deputy-Prime Minister and Finance Minister, what you have to do is simple. You don’t have to pledge anymore, you don’t have to tell words anymore, you simply have to act. If not you, then whom ? If not now, then when ?
Your government has evaluated the cost of the relocation at between 10 to 20 million euros. This is a trifling sum for the national budget, especially since it would be spent over several years. Acting for dignity is only a matter of your political and human will.
In the coming months, we will organize dignified international commemorations on the site of the camp. Roma and non-Roma human rights activists from numerous countries, parliamentarians from various national parliaments and the European parliament, prominent intellectuals, historians, people involved in the fight for the memory of the Holocaust and of genocides, will take part.
We will invite you. Then, you will not tell pledges again. You will remind the people that you will have voted a national budget for 2017 comprising a budget for the relocation of the farm and for research. You will show the audience the works for the removal which will have already started. You will plant with us the signs of the permanent exhibitions in Lety which will have been funded by the Czech state.
It is a matter of dignity. For you, for us, for the victims, for the living.