When Czechoslovak dissidents produced samizdat literature in the late communist period they did so in large part thanks to the material and financial support of the Charter 77 Foundation. It was run by František Janouch, a Czech émigré who is still mainly based in Sweden. In the second half of a two-part interview with the nuclear scientist, we discussed his relationship with Václav Havel, the Velvet Revolution and the work of the Charter 77 Foundation today. But first I asked Mr. Janouch, now 85, how the organisation had managed to get printers
A nuclear scientist, František Janouch is perhaps best-known for the Charter 77 Foundation, which he set up in exile in Sweden to provide dissidents in his native Czechoslovakia with financial support and technical equipment in the latter years of the communist regime. In this the first half of a two-part interview, Mr. Janouch – who turned 85 last week – recalls the war, his years in the Communist Party, his forced emigration and the beginnings of the Charter 77 Foundation.
The Constitutional Court in Brno on Wednesday ordered the Supreme Court to hear the appeal of the Kurd doctor and entrepreneur Yekta Uzunoglu, who is seeking 178 million crowns in state compensation for a thwarted business deal. Mr. Uzunoglu spent 2.5 years in police custody in the mid-nineties, being accused of torturing, kidnapping, robbing and attempting to murder two Turkish nationals living in the Czech Republic, but was eventually cleared of all charges. Dr. Uzunoglu has already received nearly six million crowns from the Czech state in compensations, but he considers them far from sufficient, arguing that he has lost his 20 most productive years as a result of the protracted court proceedings.
The Václav Havel award for human rights has been established in Prague in memory of the late Czech president, dissident playwright and human rights advocate. The prize, which will reward activities in defence of human rights around the world, will be first handed out this autumn by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe along with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation.
Representatives of the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation, together with the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, have reached an agreement on establishing an international award that will bear Mr Havel's name. The award is to recognize outstanding contributions to human rights and will be given annually, in October. The agreement is to be signed by Jean-Claude Mignon, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Marta Smolíková of the Václav Havel Library and František Janouch, representing the Charter 77 Foundation.
In the Czech general elections, voters shook up the political scene by turning away from the major parties and supporting newcomers. But the change did not stop there: in a new phenomenon of Czech politics, thousands of preferential votes sent many of the old, familiar faces in the lower house home, to be replaced by outsiders from the bottom of party’s ballots.
The Prague city court ruled on Wednesday that the Kurd doctor and
entrepreneur Yekta Uzunoglu will be receiving nearly one million Czech
crowns in compensation for monetary losses from the Czech state. In the
same verdict, the Prague city court did not grant the doctor and
entrepreneur the two billion Czech crowns in compensation for pain and
suffering that he had pleaded for.
Mr. Uzunoglu spent 2.5 years in prison in the mid-nineties. He was charged with fraud, planned murder and torture, but was eventually freed of all charges and has since been suing the Czech state for compensation for material and immaterial losses.
On Tuesday, the Czech Charter 77 Foundation awarded two young Czechs, Jakub Štěrbík and Stanislav Vodička, this year’s František Kriegel Award for outstanding personal courage. A year ago the two stood up to skinheads shouting hate slogans and giving the Hitler salute. For his efforts, Mr Štěrbík was stabbed in the neck; his friend Stanislav Vodička came to his aid and was also knifed.
Former Czech president and human rights activist Vaclav Havel will take part in a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with a Kurdish businessman who is trying to clear his name in a Czech court. In 1994, Dr. Yekta Uzunoglu was accused of torturing, kidnapping, robbing and attempting to murder two Turkish nationals living in the Czech Republic. He spent two and a half years on remand in police custody until he was suddenly released with no explanation. Several renowned Czech figures including Mr Havel and actor Zdenek Sverak have pledged solidarity with Mr Uzunoglu who has been trying to clear his name since 1995.
In 1994, Dr. Yekta Uzunoglu, a Kurdish businessman living in the Czech Republic was accused of torture, kidnapping, three counts of attempted murder, and robbery. His accuser was a Turkish national living in the Czech Republic under a dual identity—this man is suspected of having been a double agent, working for the KGB and the Turkish secret service, and perhaps even for the Czechoslovak StB. Dr. Uzunoglu was arrested by Czech police and held in jail for 2.5 years while the case against him was under investigation. Then, in 1997 he was released—with