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Czech actors and theater producers say political elites are failing the country

26.10.2016 16:18
Czech President Miloš Zeman during a speech he gave in 2014 to the Chinese Communist Party which Czech commentators criticized as
Czech President Miloš Zeman during a speech he gave in 2014 to the Chinese Communist Party which Czech commentators criticized as "servile".

The Association of Professional Theaters and the Actors' Association in the Czech Republic have issued a joint declaration called "We Cannot Stay Silent" in which they sharply criticize the behavior of the country's political elites. Czech President Miloš Zeman is the main target of their criticism.

The theatrical associations have condemned a recent declaration issued by the country's top four constitutional officers about the official policy of the Czech Republic towards China and what they called Zeman's "vengeful turpitude" in refusing to give a state honor to Jiří Brady, a survivor of Auschwitz and Terezín. The associations believe the stance taken by the country's top constitutional officers is an insult to all free-thinking citizens, because it means the leaders have succumbed to pressure from a foreign power.

"The President of the Republic is a man of the past and has nothing positive to offer our society! We cannot remain silent about this! We will use all legal means to demonstrate our resistance, we will open our theaters to a free dialogue between free people," reads the declaration, which was sent to the Czech News Agency today.

The theater community believes that the country cannot rely on the current leaders being able to manage it should the times become more complicated, given that Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) and the heads of both chambers of Parliament, Milan Štěch (ČSSD) and Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) made their joint statement as an assurance to China of the Czech Republic's loyalty. The statement was released after a meeting in Prague between several Czech politicians from the Christian Democrats with the Dalai Lama.

The associations say the Czech leaders have "succumbed in a cowardly way to diplomatic threats" and "failed [their] constitutional obligations to defend [their] citizens from pressure by foreign powers. We are not a colony of China! We are also not the hostages of irresponsible cowards," reads the statement, the authors of which represent actors and theaters from Brno, Hradec Králové, Liberec, Pardubice and Prague.

Leading politicians, according to the theater community, are exchanging supposed trade advantages for the Czech Republic's pride, self-confidence and sovereignty. Their fellow citizens are now deeply insulted.

"You cannot humiliate us, even if you are capable of humiliating yourselves. You do not have the right to turn us into a vassal country, into a society that is fearful, helpless, and obsequious. You are not the owners of this country, you are just its temporary administrators," the association's document says.

The current affair around the refusal to grant state honors to a Holocaust survivor was launched when Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats) told the press that President Zeman told him he would remove Brady from the list of those to receive state honors if the minister met with the Dalai Lama. Brady is Herman's uncle.

Herman met with the Dalai Lama last week. Brady's name then did not appear on the list of those to receive honors that was submitted to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka for signature.

The Office of the President claims the 88-year-old man was never on the list of those to be honored. Brady claims somebody from Prague Castle telephoned him to inform him he would be honored. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Čína, Miloš Zeman, Politics, Dalai Lama



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