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Refugee in Canada launching political movement in Czech Republic

Ottawa/Prague, 30.11.2011 16:15, (ROMEA)

Eduard Valášek fled skinheads in the town of Krnov, Czech Republic 14 years ago and was granted political asylum in Canada. Now he and friends from both countries are establishing a new political movement called the Citizens' Government League (Liga vlády občanů). "This is better than grumbling in the pub. We want to give people a platform so they can come to an agreement - through Facebook, the internet, Twitter - on how they would like to change politics," Valášek told news server iDNES.cz.

"The aim is not to fill the squares, but to give people room for their own civic initiative. Our political party wants to become the first online party. This is not a business initiative like Mr Babiš's," Valášek said.

During the 1990s, Valášek helped Romani people in the Czech Republic. After completing his studies, he founded the "Romani Rights League" (Liga za práva Romů) in the Silesian town of Krnov, only to be beaten up by local skinheads more than once, who cursed him as a "white Gypsy". He left for Canada in 1997. He was granted political asylum there after two years and acquired Canadian citizenship in 2001.

Valášek is now 49 years old and works for a security agency specializing in fire protection systems. He still has a Czech passport and returns to his native country once a year. He never stopped following politics in the Czech Republic and now, together with his friends, he has decided to galvanize those who are apathetic here so they will establish a new party and change conditions in the Czech Republic.

"Our initiative is the opposite of Babiš's ANO 2011," Valášek says, referring to "Dissatisfied Citizens' Action 2011" (in Czech, that acronym reads as "YES 2011"). In his view, Babiš's initiative is being created from within the higher echelons of politics, but any authentic new party must be established by the citizens themselves. Valášek is also angry that Babiš listed him as a supporter after merely informing him that he would be starting a new party.

Valášek says his new initiative is not backed by any existing party in the Czech Republic. Czech emigrés in Canada provided the money to launch it, as did others living in the Czech Republic. "[The supporters] are teachers, even unemployed people. These days citizens who are dissatisfied with the political situation don't have to gather in the squares anymore. They do have to manage to organize themselves through Facebook, the internet, other social networking sites, Twitter, and agree on the program they want to see through," he said.

By 15 December, Valášek says the Citizens' Government League will have launched its own web page through which people will be able to communicate. "We want to provoke people to form this party according their own ideas. I recognize that this is a bit of a leap into unknown waters," he said.

Gwendolyn Albert, iDNES.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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