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Lety: the subject of renewed debate—a Talking Point preview
23-01-2006 - Linda Mastalir

On Saturday, Roma activists and their supporters gathered at Lety near Pisek—the site of a WWII internment camp where over 300 Roma died—to protect a sacred memorial, and to protest against the gathering of the Czech Republic's National Party, who claim that Roma died in Lety because of common disease, and not the conditions imposed by a concentration camp. Linda Mastalir was there and brings us a preview of a longer feature that will air on Tuesday.

Markus Pape (in the middle), photo: CTK Lety near Pisek, the site of a WWII Roma concentration camp, is in the news again—this time because the Czech Republic's National Party, a right-wing extremist organization, has its own version of what happened at Lety between 1942 and 1945. Petra Edelmann, the National Party leader, says that there was no concentration camp there at all. Her views have provoked strong reaction as we saw at the weekend.

On Saturday, shouting "Stop Nazism!" Markus Pape, a lawyer and human rights activist, tried to intervene against the gathering of the National Party in Lety, but in the end he was taken into custody by police for disrupting an organized gathering. Now the controversy over the Lety site has been further inflamed. Many sympathise with Mr Pape and are appalled by the far-right party's stance on the Roma, but others say the extremists only reflect wider discriminatory views held by many people in this country.

"Unfortunately, to me it's still a very set indicator that parties know that the anti-Roma sentiment in this country is a politically successful tactic to get extremist voters to go along with them."

That was Gwendelyn Albert, Director of the League of Human Rights. More on this story in Tuesday's Talking Point.

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