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Czech Roma Launch International Protest
14-05-1999
Radio Prague, May 14th - Thursday marked the start of the Roma National Congress' international protest action in Lety. More than a hundred Roma from across the country arrived in Lety, showing their solidarity at the site of the World War II concentration camp where more than 300 of their kin perished. LM has the story:

The RNC has for years been lobbying for the removal of a pig-farm from this very site, but their effort has thus far proved fruitless. The Czech government recently voted to shelve the issue, claiming it lacked the necessary 300 million to transfer the farm elsewhere. Unconvinced, the RNC has launched what they describe as an international protest action. According to RNC representative Ondrej Gina, the protest will include Romany groups in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Macedonia, Germany, Sweden and even as far away as the United States. Here in the Czech lands, the RNC is asking for Roma and non-Roma support, and aims at persuading tourists not to consume pork since there is a chance it may originate from the Lety pig-farm. Spokesman Ondrej Gina stated that the protest will continue until the pig-farm is no longer standing. Gina vows to set an example for Roma and non-Roma alike, and eliminate pork from his diet. It is not a question of money, he says, but rather wrongs committed against Roma.

Marta Miklusakova from the government's Human Rights office, on Thursday expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the RMC's protest in Lety, while however, holding out hope that the international community and the government of the Czech Republic will eventually address the issue.

Petr Uhl, Government Human Right's Commissioner, also expressed the view that a pork boycott is not the best route to securing the closure of the Lety farm.

The RNC action in Lety has also been linked to current domestic and international stories concerning the Czech Republic. The participation of Romany groups outside the Czech Republic and the pressure they will exert has been downplayed in connection with the Czech Republic's pork-producing rivals from the European Union. In addition, according to AGPI general manager Jan Cech, the calling of this boycott on pork is equivalent to environmentalists' calls for no energy consumption as electricity may originate from Temelin, now scheduled to be completed.

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