29.07.2016 - LETTER

The dogs and pigs that trample on the dead

Dogs in Málaga will no longer be able to defecate on the tombs at San Rafael


However a pig farm, in Lety, in the south of Bohemia, allows the pigs to roam free in the place where the Nazis set up an internment camp for Romani people


Romani activists in front of the pig farm in Lety (Reuters David W Cerny)

The news that Málaga Town Hall has ordered the park where dogs relieved themselves to close with immediate effect, is something worth applauding.  Rectifying is work of the wise.  It was unthinkable that the local authorities in Málaga could uphold a place where animal excrement was deposited on the graves of those killed by Francoism during the Spanish Civil War.

This brings to mind a battle that European Gypsies have been fighting against the Czech government for years, over the rehoming of a pig farm set up in 1973 in Lety, south Bohemia.  In 2005 the European Parliament requested that the farm be demolished.  However, today the farm is still very much up and running.

In August 1950, during the Second World War, a labour camp was founded.  When the Nazis seized the territory they turned it from a forced labour camp, a place of punishment and suffering, into a concentration camp for gypsies.  More than 1,300 gypsy men, women and children were sent there from 1st August 1942 until its closure on 8th August 1943.

According to census records of the time, carried out on the dependant territory of Bohemia and Moravia, we know that in 1942 6,500 gypsies lived in the area.  However, official records show that by the end of the war the Nazis had exterminated 90% of the gypsy population.

There is a general consensus that the Czech government should demolish the pig farm in Lety.  The vice-president of the senate, Miluše Horská, has even expressed that this land should be a place to meet, remember and serve as a warning of what happened during the Holocaust; a place for reconciliation.  Horská recognised that the pig farm undermines the dignity of the site.

Czech gypsies, with whom we stand united, firmly condemn what Miroslav Broz, a member of the gypsy organisation ‘Konexe’, said: ‘There was absolutely no real political commitment to buy and tear down the farm.  Past promises only served to appease the international human rights community.

We are going to propitiate, and we will officially request that the European Commission and the Members of the European Parliament revise the agricultural subsidies that this region receives and that they once and for all change the location of the pig farm and that they allow the hundreds of gypsy men, women, elderly and children that were tortured to death on the same ground where the pigs now trot freely, to finally rest in peace.

This is the justice and dignity that our people demand.


Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia

Lawyer and journalist

President Unión Romaní



This English translation has been possible thanks to the PerMondo project: Free translation of website and documents for non-profit organisations. A project managed by Mondo Agit. Translator: Joseph Brownrigg; Proofreader: Thomas McGuinn.