UN urges Czechs to shut pig farm on former Nazi camp

25th July 2013, Comments 0 comments

The Czech Republic should remove a pig farm located on the site of a concentration camp where Roma were held and killed during World War II, a United Nations rights watchdog said Thursday.

The UN Human Rights Committee said the issue was a litmus test of the Czech Republic's treatment of its marginalised Roma minority and that the country should "redouble its efforts".

The committee said the country should be "actively engaging in nurturing respect for the Roma culture and history through symbolic acts, such as removing the pig farm located on a World War II Roma concentration camp in Lety".

Between 1940 and 1943, the occupying Nazi Germans and Czech collaborators imprisoned almost 1,300 Czech Roma in Lety, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of the capital Prague.

In all, 327 Roma, including 241 children, died at the camp, while more than 500 were sent to Nazi Germany's infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in occupied Poland.

Alongside the six million European Jews killed in the Holocaust, an estimated 500,000 Roma perished at Nazi hands, but their suffering is less widely known.

In 1972-1976, the communists ruling the former Czechoslovakia built a pig farm at Lety, later taken over by a private firm after the regime's collapse in 1989.

Tensions between Czech Roma and authorities have flared over the issue for well over a decade, with the deeply marginalised minority insisting the state purchase the farm, tear it down and build a fitting memorial.

The company that runs the farm says it was built on a field immediately adjacent to the former camp, which had been razed at the end of the war.

Historians, however, contend the two sites overlap.

The Czech Republic, a nation of 10.5 million people, has a Roma population estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000.


© 2013 AFP

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