On 23 April 2024, IHRA Chair Lord Eric Pickles addressed the esteemed guests at the opening of the Lety u Písku memorial:

It is a real honor to be here today.

I recall many a heated discussion at IHRA Plenaries about the indignity of having a pig farm on a site near the mass graves of more than 300 people from the Roma community who had been murdered by the Nazis.

We have to acknowledge that disregarding the site and unmarked mass graves in favor of the farm was an attempt by some to forget this dark chapter in Czechia’s history; for others, it symbolized the persistence of anti-Roma sentiment in Czech society.

Being here today at the official opening of Lety clearly shows how far the Czech government has come.

Since 2014, the IHRA has been involved in the transformation of Lety from the pig farm it once was to the memorial it is today.

The IHRA have regularly raised with both the Czech authorities and IHRA Member Countries the need for a respectful place of commemoration at Lety.

After decades of campaigning by local activists and increased efforts by the IHRA, the pig farm was redeemed by the Czech government and acquired by the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno.

In 2019, the Museum of Romani Culture was awarded an IHRA Grant to develop a concept for the exhibition for the Lety memorial. The exhibition not only covers the history of the concentration camp, but also works to prevent false assumptions on the purpose of the camp and the conditions of the victims and to counter any denial of the genocide of the Roma as well as antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination.

I am pleased that the IHRA’s experts remained actively involved as the new memorial complex was designed. This includes the IHRA’s Safeguarding Sites team which visited Lety last June.

The IHRA is immensely proud that all member countries adopted the Safeguarding Sites Charter and that Lety stands today as a proud representation of our safeguarding efforts.

It is an honor to see how we have all worked together to ensure that the victims of the Roma genocide are remembered.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to praise the Czech Government for recently adopting the IHRA working definition of antigypsyism/anti Roma discrimination.

I encourage you now to look at further practical steps to address the long term discrimination that the Roma community continue to face in this country. Examples include the difficulty Roma people face in accessing compensation for forced sterilization, and segregation of Roma children in schools. These are legacies of the Holocaust which need to be eradicated, and learned from.

This is an important day for acknowledging the dark moments of the past but looking towards a brighter future. I look forward to continued closer co-operation between the IHRA and Czechia. Thank you, all, for your continued leadership.