Purges at the Czech Freedom Fighters' Union - critics of xenophobic chair excluded, two branches closed
The Central Committee of the Czech Freedom Fighters' Union (Český svaz bojovníků za svobodu - ČSBS) closed its Jičín and Kladno district member organizations during a meeting on 18 October. Three individual members have also been excluded from the union.
Gabriela Havlůjová, the chair of the former member organization in Kladno, told the Czech News Agency that the reason for the closure was alleged defamation of the chair of the union, Jaroslav Vodička, and the leadership of the ČSBS, including an allegedly slanderous media campaign involving long-term criticism of the chair. Havlůjová herself has been excluded from the union as well.
According to Vladislav Kučik, a spokesperson for the ČSBS, the district organizations were abolished for organizational reasons and two members of the union were stripped of membership for constantly making statements to the media despite a resolution that was binding on the members not to do so. "They did so despite repeated warnings of the harmfulness of their behavior," the spokesperson said.
Another member, according to the spokesperson, was excluded for "gross defamation" of the delegates to the 10th Congress of the ČSBS. The disputes began last year when the last three living adult witnesses to the tragedy of the Nazi destruction of the village of Lidice resigned from the union's member organization in Lidice itself.
The survivors resigned because the journalist and politician Jana Bobošíková was elected head of the organization in Lidice. Havlůjová also criticized Bobošíková's election to the post and remarks she has made.
The disputes then continued when the chair of the union, Jaroslav Vodička, gave a xenophobic speech against receiving refugees in May during the commemorative ceremony at the Terezín Memorial. Vodička then ran in the recent regional elections as a candidate for the coalition of Tomio Okamura's Party of Direct Democracy and the Citizens' Rights Party.
Both parties are against refugee reception, while Okamura also attacks Romani people and disseminates hoaxes about them. According to news server Aktuálně.cz, WWII veteran Pavel Vranský has now decided to resign from the union to protest its "undemocratic approach".
Vranský is bothered by the fact that no room was made for discussion prior to voting on whether to close the member organizations and exclude the individual members. "It was unacceptable to me, because, to be brief, they arrived at that moment through an undemocratic approach. Since I had already resigned as vice-chair, I had to use the only option left to me," he told the news server.
The veteran reminded the press that the union is supposed to serve the purpose of upholding the legacy of those who fought for Czechoslovakia during the Second World War. "Now it's going so far as to exclude and remove critics from the organization. I cannot agree with that," he said.
According to Havlůjová, the members have been excluded and the branch organizations closed especially because they criticized the existing leadership. "I am of the opinion that once any association takes that kind of standpoint toward constructive criticism - that it will exclude its members who criticize things - it is heading towards a very bad end," Havlůjová said in a statement.
After closing the district committees of the ČSBS, the Kladno and Slánská branches will be directly administered by the Central Committee. Their more than 100 members do not face being stripped of their memberships.
The next moves will be addressed at the November meeting of the now-dissolved Kladno organization. Havlůjová said she is also considering establishing her own association and that she believes the entire organization in Kladno stands behind the opinions she has expressed.
- Members of Czech Freedom Fighters' Union distance themselves from national chair in petition, leadership defends his speech at Terezín
- Member of Czech Freedom Fighters' Union says chair did not speak for her during the Terezín commemoration
- Chair of Czech Freedom Fighters' Union makes anti-refugee speech during Terezín commemoration, Chief Rabbi objects on the spot
- International Romani Union: Freedom is the most important value
- European Court of Human Rights: Freedom of speech does not include Holocaust denial
- Danish journalist interviewed by Czech weekly about "the freedom to disseminate hatred"
- International caricaturists' meeting cancelled: Is extremism trumping freedom of speech?
- Czech Republic: Romani community reportedly pressured not to exercise freedom of speech
- Commentary: When walls go up, freedom is brought down
- Jarmila Balážová: Havel will always be a symbol of freedom for me!
- Bigotry cannot hide behind freedom of speech
- Chair of DSSS cell in Litvínov sentenced for promoting suppression of human rights and freedoms
- Czech Interior Ministry: Prayers against extremism not an exercise of religious freedom
- Czech mayor claims all those number 8's in her event have noooothing to do with neo-Nazis
- Czech football hooligans' racism against black player to be addressed by disciplinary commission
- Germany: Trial begins of right-wing extremist charged with murder of local politician
- Daniela Abraham: The antigypsyist violence of my childhood is still happening in Central Europe
- Czech demonstration for democratic institutions objects to new ombudsman, politicians' efforts to control public broadcasting
- Regional coalition of Romani representatives calls on Czech ombudsman to apologize for his remarks about Romani people
- Germany: Xenophobic party apologizes for racist coloring book after sharp criticism
- Czech xenophobic band removed from music festival lineup after other performers refuse to share the stage with them
- Ciprian Necula on 30 years of freedom: Roma are not demanding their rights, that's why people are ignoring us
- Michal Mižigár: What democracy brought us Romani people in the Czech Republic in the 1990s
- Czech ombudswoman: Haters online frequently refuse to admit to themselves that they could be breaking the law
- Hollywood Reporter says "The Painted Bird", starring a Romani child actor, is among the 20 best films this year