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Svatopluk Karásek, former Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner, politician, religious figure and songwriter, has passed away

20.12.2020 18:51
Svatopluk Karásek (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons, Jindřich Nosek)
Svatopluk Karásek (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons, Jindřich Nosek)

News server Echo24.cz has reported that Svatopluk Karásek, an evangelical spiritual leader, former Czech MP and songwriter, has passed away today at the age of 78. Jiří Fiedor, a communist-era dissident, documentary filmmaker and friend of the deceased, confirmed the news to the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

Mr Karásek was persecuted during the postwar totalitarian regime and spent part of his life in exile. Fiedor told ČTK that Mr Karásek never let his spirit be broken by any of those life experiences.

During his lifetime, Mr Karásek served in many different professions and studied many different subjects. He originally attended gardening school in Děčín, then viticulture school in Mělník, and after a first unsuccessful attempt at being accepted to study theology, he worked in the mines in Kladno.

Later he was accepted to Charles University's Faculty of Theology, and after completing his studies, began to work in 1968 as a parson. After three years, however, the communist regime refused to agree with his continuing to perform clerical activities.

Mr Karásek subsequently worked as the administrator of the depository at Castle Houska. At that time he grew close to underground culture and to those around the band The Plastic People of the Universe.

"At that time we believed the Bolsheviks would be here forever, so we wanted to at least live as if we were free in that unfree state," he previously said of those times. He began to sing his homilies for his friends, although he never considered himself a musician.

Through his relationships with the underground and his songs, he irritated the totalitarian regime even more. In 1976 he was convicted during the trial of The Plastic People of the Universe and sentenced to eight months, allegedly for "rioting" and for "immoral songs".

Despite this, Mr Karásek was not afraid of the communists in power and became a signatory of Charter 77, among other matters. Subsequently he was taken into custody and interrogated more than once, and in 1980, under pressure from State Security (Státní bezpečnosti - StB), he left the country with his wife and their three children.

"I respected him immensely for his attitude during the previous regime. He lived freely and honorably. His opinions are reflected in his songs," Fiedor said today.

"Such people should be an example for us to follow today. This is a great loss for Czech culture and Czech social life," Fiedor added.

After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Mr Karásek repeatedly visited his home country and returned there for good in 1997. He became a parson again and performed music with the groups Pozdravpámbu and Svatopluk, as well as giving solo concerts.

In addition to his albums of music, he released many publications on church-related subjects, as well as collections of his lyrics and sermons. "It is sad that during this time of Advent such rare people as Svatopluk Karásek, the evangelical parson and songwriter who was also Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner between 2004-2006, are leaving us. All honor to his memory," said current Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Helena Válková.

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ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner, Deceased, democracy, freedom



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