The Civil Rights Movement in the United States sent ripples around the world, not least in the Soviet Union and its satellites. In Czechoslovakia, events were followed closely, as the struggle for the rights of African Americans became a weapon in the ideological battles between East and West. Czech Radio’s archives house several recordings of Civil Rights activists, who visited Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989 or were interviewed at home in the United States. One was the singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson, who came to this country several
Under Communism, being gay or lesbian was essentially taboo and many still preferred to live with the secret rather than come out. In this second part of a story begun on August 17, Jana Kociánová describes how her secret was eventually uncovered. How, an artistic environment in Prague allowed some room to be who she really was and how that forced her to be open about her sexuality although the era of so-called ‘normalisation’ was did not encourage those who stepped out of line.
President Zeman’s nomination of Karel Srp to a board overseeing the country’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes hit a hurdle on Tuesday. Srp, a former dissident who headed the so-called Jazz Section in communist Czechoslovakia, was rejected by the Senate’s Commission on Election. It stressed that the nominee had been a member of Czechoslovakia’s communist party, which was disqualifying.
The police have charged three former members of the Communist era secret police, the StB, for their role in Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Sixteen former members of the secret police have stood trial and been convicted for intimidating or using violence against dissidents, but the main organizer of the campaign, Jaromír Obzina died before he could be tried.
Three former members of the communist era secret police, the StB, have been charged in connection with threats used against a doctor to make him quit the country, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Thursday. The threats included killing members of the doctor’s family. The doctor eventually quit Czechoslovakia for West Germany in 1983 but returned after the end of the regime in 1989. The three men, now in their 60s, could face 10 year sentences if found guilty. The StB, as part of the so-called Asanace measure, encouraged dissidents to leave the country from the end of the 1970s.
President Miloš Zeman on Friday nominated former dissident and former Jazz Section head Karel Srp to join the Council of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. His nomination needs to be approved by the Senate. Earlier this year, Mr Srp was rejected by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka as the president’s nominee for a commission examining who should be recognised as a member of the anti-Communist resistance during the previous regime. At the time, the prime minister praised Srp for having done much for independent culture under communism. However, he said, public information showed that the candidate had repeatedly informed to the StB secret police. A court ruled in 2000 that his name had wrongfully been listed in StB records, but former members of the pre-1989 underground maintain Mr Srp had informed on them during the former regime.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has sent a condolence letter to the widow of the late Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. The Prime Minister said Czech citizens share the values for which her husband had fought all of his life. Bohuslav Sobotka also mentioned that Liu Xiaobo had been inspired by the legacy of the former Czech president and dissident Václav Havel. The Chinese political activist succumbed to cancer on Thursday at the age of 61 after the Chinese authorities had denied him a treatment abroad.
A Prague court has rejected a request for compensation from former dissident and Charter 77 signatory Petr Hanzlík who was persecuted by the communist secret police and one of the victims of Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Hanzlík sued the Interior Ministry asking for 12 million in compensation for the property he was forced to leave behind and 700,000 for loss of pension. The court ruled that the statute of limitations on communist crimes had expired. Hanzlík’s lawyer has said his client would appeal the case.
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