16.03.2014: Conservatives Condemned over "16 March" Nazi Veterans

latviassControversy over the British Conservatives' right-wing grouping in the European Parliament will return today (16 March) with the resumption of a commemorative march by Waffen SS veterans supported by the Tories' Latvian 'For Fatherland' partner party.

Senior Labour MEP and longstanding anti-racist campaigner Richard Howitt will say in a message to be delivered at the counter-demonstration in Riga, Latvia that the reported refusal of the Conservative MEP leader to sign the petition against the demonstration leaves a scar on the reputation of Britain.

The Labour Euro MP says it is unacceptable for David Cameron to ally himself to a Latvian party which previously supported the commemoration of Nazi veterans being given the status of an state public holiday in Latvia and recently proposed that the Waffen SS forces be officially renamed 'liberation fighters'.

In his statement to be read out to the counter-demonstrators by Dr Efraim Zuroff, US-Israeli Nobel Prize nominee in 2008 for Holocaust scholarship, Richard Howitt MEP will say:

"I am saddened that the governing Conservative Party from my country chooses to ally itself in a common European Group with the Latvian "For Fatherland and Freedom Party," whose Member of the European Parliament is on record as supporting this sickening celebration.

"I also find shocking the report that the British Conservative MEP who is head of his European group has personally refused to sign the petition against this celebration, despite 7,000 people worldwide having done so.

"The party of Government of my country should not sit with a party which has proposed that Waffen SS be troops be renamed 'liberation fighters'.

"This insults the memory of the victims, honours Nazism itself and is a scar on the reputation of Britain."

Richard Howitt MEP who proposed the European Parliament declaration on responsibility for the holocaust, continues in Sunday's address:

"Today, the British Labour Party stands with all victims of the Second World War, all who condemn fascism, all who oppose anti-semitism and other forms of racism, to express our horror at those who seek to re-write history in order to justify those who would spread bitterness, hate and division in a new century.

"This year sees the 100 years centenary since the beginning of the First World War, and people throughout Europe will come together to remember the horrors of both wars of the twentieth century and celebrate the fact fascism was defeated and not victorious."

Richard Howitt MEP will conclude his statement saying the march and those who support it will be seen as joining those who deny the holocaust, saying:

"Almost all of Latvia's 70,000 Jews were murdered during the holocaust.

"When survivors of Nazi concentration camps in 1945 stood holding signs saying 'never again', they could not have foreseen what is happening today in Riga.

"These are the people we should be commemorating and this is the message we should remember."

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