Czech Roma reclaim Holocaust site, but equality feels distant

by | Aug 3, 2022 | World

Prague, Czech Republic – Putting an end to decades of controversy, a ceremony on June 22 kicked off the demolition of a pig farm that has for decades stood on the site of a World War II-era concentration camp for Roma in the Czech Republic.But an end to the discrimination against the country’s largest minority remains distant.
Official records say 327 Roma people died at Lety, which sits 70km (44 miles) south of Prague. It is estimated that 90 percent of the Czech Roma population was killed during the Holocaust.
Descendants of the victims insist, however, that thousands perished at the camp, which was run by Czechs under the auspices of the Nazis.
The removal of the farm, built by Communist authorities in the 1970s and the planned construction of a memorial will crown a long campaign which, thanks to opposition from hard-right political forces, had become emblematic since the 1990s.
But despite the victory at Lety, the struggle for equality for the nation’s 250,000 or so Roma is making little progress.
Some headway has been made but it remains piecemeal.
After decades during which Roma children were corralled into special needs institutions, legislation to improve Roma access to the education system was introduced in 2014.
Meanwhile, in a landmark move last year, the government agreed to pay compensation to hundreds of women who were involuntarily sterilised.
But some Roma still suffer chronic social and econom …

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