Czech civil society prize goes to Romani musician Radek Banga for protesting music award to neo-Nazi band
The František Kriegel Award, which is given annually by the Charter 77 Foundation, is being given this year to the Romani musician and singer Radek Banga. He is being given the prize for what the foundations called his "brave civic stance" during last year's announcement of the "Golden Nightingale" music awards, when he publicly objected to a prize awarded to the Ortel band.
The lyrics and oratory of the band exploit unacceptbale racist and xenophobic rhetoric, which Banga reacted to during the ceremony by walking out of the theater, the foundation recalled in a press release on Monday. He will receive the award in May at the residence of the Prague Mayor.
"A hall full of celebrities from Czech pop music courteously applauded the Ortel band. Radek Banga, who is Romani, faced a flood of threats against him and his entire family when the ceremony was over. He fearlessly reiterated his reservations about the Ortel band's lyrics, though. He became an example of the bravery to stand up to neo-Nazism not just for his peers, but for all of civil society," representatives of the Charter 77 Foundation noted.
The award has been given since 1987. It is announced annually on 10 April, the birthday of Kriegel, who was a distinctive figure of the so-called Prague Spring of 1968. Kriegel was one of the only Czechoslovak politicians who, after the country was occupied by Warsaw Pact troops, refused to sign the Moscow Diktat.
Since 1990 the award has been given for civic bravery demonstrated irrespective of personal benefit and possible risks. Both individuals and organizations have received the prize.
In the past the award has been given, for example, to the singer Karel Kryl; the head of the State Fund for the Environment (after his dismissal), Libor Michálek; the cameraman Stanislav Milota; former Senate chair Petr Pithart; the journalist Petra Procházková; the Mayor of Kašperské Hory, František Stíbal; and the dissident Jaroslav Šabata. Last year's award was received by the Klinika Autonomous Social Center in Prague, while the Činoherák Ústí theater ensemble received it in 2015.
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