Children of Antifascists Call On Babis To Resign From Public Posts Over Comments
Babis’s comments about his opponents have been strongly criticised by the children of Holocaust survivors. Credit: vlada.cz.
Prague, Aug 11 (CTK) – A group of public figures, including the children of Holocaust survivors, anti-Nazism resistance fighters, and dissidents, have called on ANO leader Andrej Babis to resign from his public posts for describing his opponents as fascists and Nazis, in an appeal sent today to CTK by Bretislav Rychlik, one of the signatories.
Director and actor Rychlik is one of the three guarantors of the signatures.
MP and former prime minister Babis referred to his opponents, in particular voters of the current government parties, the SPOLU coalition of the Civic Democrats (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and TOP 09, and the so-called PirStan group of the Pirate Party and Mayors and Independents (STAN), as Nazis and fascists at one of his pre-election meetings.
In response, Babis told CTK that when he made the remarks in question, he was referring to a commentary in the daily newspaper Pravo, but admitted that his comments were not appropriate. However, he argued that his opponents in South Bohemia had violated his right to freedom of expression and his supporters had not felt safe at the meetings.
The appeal was signed by former wartime RAF (Royal Air Force) pilot Jiri Pavel Kafka, actor Petr Forman, whose grand-parents died in concentration camp, and playwright and Charter 77 signatory Milan Uhde, whose grandparents were murdered by the Nazis. It is supported by Zdena Masinova, a resistance fighter’s daughter whose brothers formed and armed an anti-communist resistance group, and Roma Culture Museum director Jana Horvathova, said Rychlik, himself a grandson of anti-Nazism fighters and a nephew of a Gulag prisoner, a member of the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps in the Soviet Union.
The signatories point to the fact that Babis said the words at the time when Russian troops were invading Ukraine under the pretence of “Denazification”. In this context, they warned that it is extremely dangerous to label someone as a Nazi or fascist.
“We are the descendants and relatives of those who were murdered, tortured and went through the hell of concentration camps, who were fighting, bleeding and risking their lives in the struggle against Nazism on the eastern and western fronts and in the domestic and foreign resistance movements during WWII, one of the most tragic periods of our country. Your comparison is affecting us immensely and is insulting our families,” the appeal reads.
The signatories argue that Babis’s departure from public posts is the only way out.
The Holocaust survivors’ chilren also suggested that Babis should make a penitential tour of the former Nazi concentration camps in Europe, and said they are willing to set his route.
As an example to follow, they mentioned the case of former Czech PM and former ODS chairman Mirek Topolanek, who stepped down after making controversial statements about the church, Jews and homosexuals during a photo shoot for Lui magazine.
“Those are fascists and Nazis. (…) Those are voters of SPOLU and PirSTAN. Those are dangerous people,” Babis said last week in the controversial statements about his opponents at a rally in South Bohemia.
The respective commentary in Pravo, which Babis mentioned, analyses “the right to disturb meetings,” writing that in history, both Italian fascists and the Nazis in Germany had started by violently disturbing meetings of their political opponents.
Babis told CTK that when entering “a very hostile environment among vulgar and aggressive opponents,” he had spoken under the influence of emotions and briefly mentioned a commentary in Pravo. “It was inappropriate, I regret this,” he said.
Babis has been touring the Czech Republic in a caravan since the beginning of the summer. However, he denies this is a campaign for the presidential election to be held in early 2023, insisting instead that he is touring the regions as the ANO leader as part of the movement’s campaign before the autumn Senate and local elections. He has not yet officially announced his presidential candidacy, and may do so on 28 October or later.