EP criticizes Czechs for pig farm on the site of former Roma concentration camp

The pig farm in Lety

A report outlining Roma minority problems in the EU, adopted by the European Parliament on Thursday, highlights the case of a pig farm built on the site of a wartime concentration camp for Romanies near the community of Lety, central Bohemia. Members of the European Parliament are calling on the Czech authorities to abolish the farm, and create a memorial in honour of the camp’s victims.

Warning of widespread Romany-phobia which often culminates in racist attacks, hate speech and even police harassment, the European Parliament has called for fresh efforts to integrate the Roma community. In its appeal for a full recognition of the Romany Holocaust, known as Porajmos, during the Second Word War, the report urges the Czech Republic to remove a pig farm on the site of a wartime Roma concentration camp in Lety, a village in central Bohemia. Milan Horáček is a MEP nominated by the German Greens.

Milan Horáček
“I know that various Czech governments have been dealing with the issue for some ten years or even longer. It is hard to believe that you can’t find a solution in all those years if you really want to do something. I am sure that the pig farm could be moved somewhere else, or closed. We don’t expect an overnight solution but the point is to find an acceptable solution a way of removing the farm in a decent and civilized manner. The situation there now is an embarrassment.”

The fact that the otherwise general resolution by the European Parliament specifically mentions only the Czech Republic as a country that should address the issue of the Romany holocaust has provoked a strong reaction from some Czech MEPs. Jan Zahradil, an MEP for the Civic Democrats, abstained in Thursday’s vote.

Jan Zahradil
“Literally every European country has a skeleton in the closet when it comes to the problems of the Roma minority. I don’t see any reason why it is the Czech Republic that should be repeatedly mentioned as the only transgressor. This particular problem of the pig farm has been very strongly played by some Hungarian MEPs, by some Green MEPs, especially by Mr Horáček, and I think that unfortunately it has nothing to do with their efforts to solve the problems with the Roma minority but rather to politically attack the Czech Republic as such.”

Džamila Stehlíková
The pig farm was constructed on the site of the wartime concentration camp in Lety in the communist 1980s, and several Czech governments have tried to have the facility removed ever since the existence of the camp was rediscovered in the early 1990s. Critics of the project say the cost of removing the pig farm, estimated at roughly 500 million crowns, or more than 28 million US dollars, is too high. But Džamila Stehlíková, the Czech minister for ethnic minorities, says negotiations between the authorities and the farm’s owners could soon bring a solution to the problem.

“We have made progress in our negotiations and I am sure it is a question of several months before we are able to prepare some materials for the government and to have not only a discussion but also a number of alternative proposals how to resolve the matter.”