A Question of Dignity

There is, at the heart of Europe, an industrial pig farm that stands on the site of a concentration camp.

On the fence of this farm, there is a sign marked with the EU flag; the farm, in fact, receives European subsidies through the Common Agricultural Policy. The difficult nature of the access to the site – which obliges a half-hour walk through the tall grass, sometimes through mud, even in the height of summer, in order to reach the clearing that borders the site on which stands a sole explanatory panel – contributes to the erasing of the memory of the crime, and impedes the transmission of history. The presence of pigs, with their filth and sickening odour which dominates, stains the memory of those lost, and is an assault on their dignity and that of their descendants.

It is Lety, in the Czech Republic, around one hour south of Prague by car. A camp established there in 1939 to detain various prisoners was turned into a concentration camp exclusively for Roma in July 1942, until its closure in August 1943. Hundreds of Roma were reduced to forced labor and were deported to their deaths, above all to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

This locucide,referring to the crime against the site, resonates with the genocide of which the Roma were victims during the Second World War. It echoes the persecution and discrimination to which the Roma are still subjected in Europe today. It symbolizes the absence of knowledge regarding this part of European history.

Whilst different expressions of racism have appeared on our continent, a continent crossed by a crisis of identity, a crisis of values, alongside an economic, social and institutional crisis, the virulence of anti-Roma racism, just like anti-Semitism, finds part of its explanation in a certain erasing of memory of the genocide against the Roma and of the Holocaust.

Indeed, with survivors disappearing, it is the guilty conscience of European civilization that they represent and that fades away. Yet the guilty conscience allows the prevention of actions. Violence thus breaks loose, and if it attacks Roma and Jewish communities today with as much force, it is because they are symbolically the primary inheritor-witnesses, the primary representatives of this guilty European conscience;together, they form the first barrier to persecution.

Thus, the erasure of memory, the failure to transfer history, and denial appear as the elements incubating modern day racism and anti-Semitism.

Furthermore, to put an end to this locucide would represent a fight against racism, against discrimination and against the prejudice stamped by ignorance that afflicts the Roma. This would be to advance knowledge, justice and equality. This would be to transmit to current and future generations, allowing them to undo the heritage of persecution, and to liberate themselves from the suffocating weight of a funereal past. In short, this would embody the spirit of Roma Pride, a mobilization against racism, in the name of equality and dignity, for which Roma and non-Roma, from more than twenty countries in Europe and beyond get involved in together on the first Sunday of October for the last four years.

Our dignity, in Europe and beyond, demands that we put an end to the defilement of Lety.

It is for this reason, on the occasion of Roma Pride, that we ask the President of the European Council Mr. Tusk, the President of the European Commission Mr. Juncker, the President of the European Council Mr. Schulz, as well as the Czech Prime Minister Mr. Sobotka to act so that we may finally put an end to the locucide that is represented by the degradation of Lety.

Concretely, this means to relocate the industrial pig farm and in its place erect an appropriate site of memory and of transmission; unlike the memorial stone currently standing on the mass graves, a few hundred metres from the site. This means supporting research in order to discover the entire history of this site, as well as those who lived there, and those who died there.

Financing is already available to do this. It would suffice, for example, to use some of the hundreds of millions of euros from the European budget allocated yearly for Roma integration, which rest idle in Brussels due to a lack of interest from member states or their local authorities. Today, all that lacks is the political will to act.

It is in the undertaking of this project of dignity that the European project will find its breath that today marks its failure, that it will be able to respond to the crisis of values in which we find ourselves, and it shall give to current and future generations the possibility to project themselves towards the future with revived enthusiasm. Today, this path of dignity passes through Lety.

By:

Benjamin Abtan, President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM, Miroslav Broz, Leader of Konexe (Czech Republic), Marian Mandache, Executive Director of Romani Criss (Romania), Deyan Kolev, President of the Amalipe Roma Centre (Bulgaria), Jeno Setet, Roma civil rights leader (Hungary), Bernard Kouchner, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Founder of Doctors Without Borders and Doctors of the World (France), Kim Campbell, Former Prime Minister of Canada, President of the World Movement for Democracy (Canada), Beate and Serge Klarsfeld , Sons and Daughters of Deported Jews (France), Kinga Goncz, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chair of Roma Initiatives Advisory Board (Hungary), Miguel Angel Moratinos, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Spanish Cooperation (Spain), Jovan Divjak, Former General, Deputy Commander of the Territorial Defence forces of Bosnia and Herzegoniva, Defender of beseiged Sarajevo, Executive Director of Education builds Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Dario Fo, Nobel Prize for Literature (Italy), Markus Pape, Journalist, writer (Czech Republic), Paul Polansky, Historian (USA, Czech Republic), Richard Prasquier, Vice-President of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah (France),

The call is supported by 73 MEPs and MPs, coming from 22 countries, as well as by former ministers, along with mayors, local elected people, intellectuals, artists, antiracist and human rights activists of more than 30 countries, in Europe and beyond.

Full list of signatories on www.egam.eu.

MEPs :

Max Andersson, Member of the European Parliament (Sweden), Petras Auštrevičius, Member of the European Parliament (Lithuania), Brando Benifei, Member of the European Parliament (Italy), Malin Bjork, Member of the European Parliament (Sweden), José Bové, Member of the European Parliament (France), Lynn Boylan, Member of the European Parliament (Ireland), Matt Carthy, Member of the European Parliament (Ireland), Nessa Childers, Member of the European Parliament (Ireland), Michael Cramer, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice President of the European Parliament, Member of the European Parliament (Poland), Seb Dance, Member of the European Parliament (UK), Fabio De Masi, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Annaliese Dodds, Member of the European Parliament (UK), Stefan Eck, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Frank Engel, Member of the European Parliament (Luxembourg), Cornelia Ernst , Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Tanja Fajon, Member of the European Parliament (Slovenia), José Inácio Faria, Member of the European Parliament (Portugal), Eider Gardiazabal, Member of the European Parliament (Spain), Charles Goerens, Member of the European Parliament (Luxembourg), Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament (Portugal), Enrique Guerrero, Member of the European Parliament (Spain), Thomas Handel, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Maria Heubuch, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Ivan Jakovčić, Member of the European Parliament (Croatia), Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Jude Kirton-Darling, Member of the European Parliament (UK), Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament (UK), Philippe Lamberts, Member of the European Parliament (Belgium), Patrick Le Hyarick, Member of the European Parliament (France), Sabine Lösing, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Merja Kyllönen, Member of the European Parliament (Finland), Martina Michels, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Claude Moraes, Member of the European Parliament (UK), Younous Omarjee, Member of the European Parliament (France), Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Member of the European Parliament (Spain), Vincent Peillon, Member of the European Parliament (France), Kati Piri, Member of the European Parliament (Netherlands), Georgi Pirinski, Member of the European Parliament (Bulgaria), Soraya Post, Member of the European Parliament (Sweden), Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament (Germany) Michèle Rivasi, Member of the European Parliament (France), Liliana Rodrigues, Member of the European Parliament (Portugal), Ulrike Rodust, Member of the European Parliament (Germany), Lola Sanchez-Caldentey, Member of the European Parliament (Spain), Csaba Sogor, Member of the European Parliament (Romania), Bart Staes, Member of the European Parliament (Belgium), Catherine Stihler, Member of the European Parliament (UK), Pavel Telička, Member of the European Parliament (Czech Republic), Ernest Urtasun, Member of the European Parliament (Spain), Bodil Valero, Member of the European Parliament (Sweden), Marie-Christine Vergiat, Member of the European Parliament (France), Renate Weber, Member of the European Parliament (Romania), Josef Weidenholzer, Member of the European Parliament (Austria), Bogdan Wenta, Member of the European Parliament (Poland), Tomáš Zdechovský, Member of the European Parliament (Czech Republic)

MPs :

David Assouline, Senator (France), Rita Bernardini, Secretary General of Radical Party (Italy), Patrick Bloche, Member of Parliament (France), Angelo Bonelli, Party Leader of Federation of the Greens (Italy), Fanélie Carrey-Conte, Member of Parliament (France), Khalid Chaouki , Member of Parliament (Italy), Sergio Coronado, Member of Parliament (France), Jérôme Coumet, Mayor of the 13th district of Paris (France), Diether Dehm, Member of Parliament (Germany), Olivier Faure, Member of Parliament (France), Joël Giraud, Member of Parliament (France), Rüdiger Hergt, Member of Parliament (Germany), Giorgos Kaminis, Mayor of Athens (Greece), Giorgio La Malfa, Former Member of the European Parliament, Former Minister of Economy and Finance, Former Minister of European Affairs (Italy), Anne-Yvonne Le Dain, Member of Parliament (France), Noël Mamère, Member of Parliament (France), Sandrine Mazetier, Member of Parliament, Vice President of the National Assembly (France), Peter Meiwald, Member of Parliament (Germany), Nicolai Radita, President of National Roma Centre (Romania), Fabio Porta, Deputy of Democratic Party – the Overseas South America (Italy), Barbara Romagnan, Member of Parliament (France), Roberto Romero, Vice President of Ile-de-France region for International Affairs (France), Michael Danby, MP (Australia)

Former ministers, along with mayors, local elected people, intellectuals, artists, antiracist and human rights activists of more than 30 countries, in Europe and beyond :

André Glucksmann, Philosopher, writer (France), Cécile Duflot, Member of Parliament, Former Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing (France), Irwin Cotler, Former Minister of Justice, Member of Parliament for Mount Royal (Canada), Michael Danby, Member of Parliament (Australia), Jack Lang , Former Minister of Culture, President of the Arab World Institute (France), involved in Lety for a long time, Eric Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble (France), Lucie Rybová, Director of Czech Helsinki Committee (Czech Republic), Benjamin Stora, Historian, President of the Board of the National Immigration Museum (France), Danis Tanovic, Film maker (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Oliviero Toscani, Photographer (Italy), Sabina Achterbergh, Chair of Association Sinti, Roma, Travellers Netherlands (The Netherlands), Cengiz Aktar, Professor of Economics and Administrativexf Sciences at Bahçeşehir University (Turkey), Muhamet Arifi , President of Balkan Sunflowers (Kosovo), Theodore Alexandridis, Coordinated Organisations and Communities for Roma Human Rights in Greece (Greece), Henriette Asséo , Historian, Associate Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (France), Geert Ates, Director of UNITED for Intercultural Action (Netherlands), Graziano Halilovic, President of Roma Onlus (Italy), Yvan Le Bolloc’h, Singer (France), Maruša Babnik, Director of Ekvilib Institute (Slovenia), Roman Chojnacki, President of Roma Union Poland (Poland), Ali Bayramoglu, Columnist (Turkey), Anastasiia Boichuk, President of Roby Bilshe – Do More (Ukraine), Andrea Harle, Director of Romano Centro (Austria), Elie Chouraqui, Film Director (France), Yonous Muhammadi, President of the Greek Forum of Refugees (Greece), Ladan Boroumand, Research Director at The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran (Iran, France), Sari Nusseibeh, Professor of Philosophy (Palestine), Jean-Yves Camus, Researcher (France), Edin Berisa, President of Association for Roma Affirmation (Montenegro), Fabien Cazenave, Director of Young European Federalists (France), Jovan Byford , Senior Lecturer at The Open University (UK), Irena Bihariova, Director of Ludia proti rasizmu (Slovakia), Ofer Bronchtein, President of the International Forum for Peace (France, Israël, Palestine), Sasha Zanko, French Union of Tsigane Associations (France), Catherine Coquio, Professor of Comparative Literature at Paris Diderot University, President of the International Association of Research on Crimes Against Humanity and Genocides (France), Alba Cuevas, President of SOS Racismo Catalunya (Spain), Jovana Vukovic, Director of Regional Centre of Minorities (Serbia), Sandra Vokk, CEO of Unitas (Estonia), Sonia Rolland, Director, actress (France, Rwanda), Anders Dalsbro, Editor at Expo (Sweden), Michel Kichka, Cartooning for Peace (Israel), Rene Danen, President of Bekent Color Foundation (The Netherlands), Alain Daumas, President of the French Union of Tsigane Associations (France), Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor (Greece), Séta Papazian, President of Collectif VAN (Vigilance Arménienne contre le Négationnisme) (France), Asmet Elezovski, President of National Roma Centrum (Macedonia), Annette Lévy-Willard, Journalist, writer (France), Elmas Arus, President of Zero Discrimination (Turkey), Jean Paul Makengo, Member of the Regional Council of Midi-Pyrénées, former President of European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (France), Richard Odier, President of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (France), Frédéric Encel, Professor of Geopolitics (France), Ndoba Gasana, Former President of the National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda, International Consultant on human rights, lecturer at the National University of Rwanda (Rwanda), Andrzej Luczak, Director of The Institute of Romani Heritage and Memory and Holocaust’s Victims (Poland), Cécile Germain, Federal Secretary of the Young Ecologists (France), Rajan Zed, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism (USA), Ariel Goldmann, President of the Unified Social Jewish Fund and the French Judaism Foundation, Lawyer (France), Kostana Jovanovic, Chair of Roma Platform Netherlands, Association of Sinti, Roma andTravellers Netherlands (The Netherlands), Darko Ivanovic, Journalist (Montenegro), Advija Ibrahimovic, Women of Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Roman Lutt, President of Euroopa Romade Foorum Eestis (Estonia), Thomas Guénolé-Ryzhakov, Political Scientist (France), Federico Guerrieri, President of European Alternatives (Italy), Dijana Pavlovic, Vice President of ‘Federazione Rom e Sinti insieme’, actress and mediator (Italy), Géraldine Guilpain, President of the Young Radical Left (France), Ayse Gunaysu, Member of the Board of the Istanbul branch of the Association for Human Rights – IHD (Turkey), Bassem Samir , Chairman of the Board of Trustees as the Egyptian Democratic Association, and the Egyptian Democratic Academy (Egypt), Charles Habonimana, President of Group of Former Students Survivors of the Genocie – GAERG (Rwanda), Francis Chouraqui, Lawyer (France), TernYpe (Europe), Esméralda Romanes, President of the European Federation of Romani Women and Travellers (France) , Bernadette Hétier, Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (France), Nicolai Radita, President of Centrul National al Romilor (Moldova), Denis Huber, Executive Secretary of Chambers of Regions of the Council of Europe (France), Zola Kondur, President of Chiricli (Ukraine), Jean-Pierre Chrétien, Historian (France), Alma Masic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Kristin Solvik, Manager of Sveriges Antidiskrimineringsbyråer (Sweden), Nordine Idir, President of the Young Communists Movement of France (France), Hristo Ivanovski, President of Alliance of Human Rights (Macedonia), Marcel Kabanda, President of Ibuka (France), Anetta Kahane, President of Amadeu Antonio Foundation (Germany), Krassimir Kanev, President of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria), Pierre Kanuty, Regional Advisor for Ile-de-France region, President of Ile-de-France Europe (France), Tom Koenigs, Full Member in the United Nations Subcommittee on International Organizations and Globalization, Chairman in the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid (Germany), Guy Konopnicki, Writer, Journalist (France), Dimitrios Sotiropoulos, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Athens (Greece), Joel Kotek, Professor at the Free University of Brussels (Belgium), Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) (France), Anna Lenchovska, President of Congress of National Minorities (Ukraine), Valerian Mamaliga, President of Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (Moldova), Charles Enderlin, Journalist (France, Israel), Jacky Mamou, Former President of Doctors of the World, President of Urgence Darfour (France), Nonna Mayer, CNRS Research Director Emerita for the Centre of European Studies at Sciences Po (France), Mario Mazic , Director of Programs at Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Croatia), Caroline Mecary, Lawyer, Member of the Ile-de-France Regional Council and Member of the Paris Council (France), Fadila Mehal, Founder and Honorary President of Marianne for Diversity (France), Aldo Merkovi, Director of International Affairs at Mjaft! (Albania), Jean de Dieu Mirindi, President of the Association of Survivor Students of the Genocide – AERG (Rwanda), Christophe Louis, Director of Rom Civic (France), Anita Mitic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Serbia), Yuliia Zakutnia, Member of Euromaidan SOS (Ukraine), Iannis Roder, Historian, Teacher (Shoah Memorial) (France), Ahmed Moawia, President of the Greek Forum for Migrants (Greece), Yves Ternon, Historian (France), Pierre Henry, President of France Terre d’Asile (France), Fer YpForum of European Roma Young People (Europe), Jette Moller, President of SOS Mod Racisme (Denmark), Erika Muhi, Director of NEKI (Hungary), Florica Gabi Mutean, Director at Pavee Point (Ireland), Pap Ndiaye, Historian, Director of the Department of History at Sciences Po (France), Sigita Odina, Researcher at Latvian Centre for Human Rights (Latvia), Vince Olah, Vice President of Khetane (Serbia), Drom Kotar Mestipen (Spain), Rafal Pankowski, President of the Never Again Association (Poland), Lefteris Papagiannakis, Member of the City Council of Athens, President of the Council for the Integration of Immigrants (Greece), Nafsika Papanikolatou, Minority Rights Group (Greece), National Association of Traveller Citizens (ANGVC), Alexander Pollak, President of SOS Mitmensch (Austria), Boris Raonic, President of Civic Alliance (Montenegro), Benny Fischer, President of EUJS (Belgium), Sacha Reingewirtz, President of UEJF (France) Paula Sawicka, CEO of Open Rebulic (Poland), Angela Scalzo, President of SOS Razzismo (Italy), Claudia Schäfer, CEO of ZARA (Austria), Thierry Sebaganwa, President of Shalom House (Rwanda), Levent Sensever, Spokesperson at DurDe! (Turkey), Noureddine Skiker, Youth Policy Officer of Aubervilliers (France), Laura Slimani, President of the Young European Socialists and the Young French Socialists (France), Dominique Sopo, President of SOS Racisme (France), Rune Steen, Director of Antirasistisk Senteret (Norway), Nicolas Tavitian, Director of the Armenian General Benevolent Union Europe (Belgium), Edona Tolaj, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Kosovo), Ara Toranian, Co-president of the Council for the Coordination of Armenian Communities of France (France), Klaus Witold, President of Association for Legal Intervention (SIP) (Poland), Baki Youssoufou, Founder of We Sign It, President of Active Generation (France), Centrum Mot Rasism (Sweden), Harangos (Poland)

Full list of signatories on www.egam.eu.

published: 28. 9. 2015