Czech students protest co-optation of Czechoslovak historical figure in Italy
The upcoming 50th anniversary of the death of Czechoslovak student Jan Palach was commented on in Sunday's opinion section of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera by two Italian journalists. Gian Antonio Stella informed Italian readers that the Student Council of Charles University's Faculty of Arts has protested a concert by neo-Fascist bands to be held on 19 January in Verona, allegedly to honor Palach's memory.
Stella's opinion piece notes that Palach has nothing in common with the ultra-right. Paolo Mieli, described by the Czech News Agency as a "matador" of Italian journalism, alleges in another opinion piece that neither Budapest nor Prague are currently officially commemorating figures symbolic of the fight against the Soviet regime.
"We were outraged by the news, reported by La Repubblica and then the Czech media, that a concert is planned in Verona where music groups associated with the Italian ultra-right are to perform," Stella quotes the Student Council as saying. Representatives of the organization annually commemorate Palach's protest and consider the "official auspices, in this case of the province of Verona, for this concert" to be worthy of condemnation.
Stella writes that neo-Fascists have nothing in common with Palach, referencing a monograph about the history of the student's self-immolation in 1969 to protest the fact that the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968 brought an end to the reform period known as the Prague Spring. Stella also warns that the head of the province of Verona, Manuel Scalzotto of the nationally-governing Lega party, which several commentators believe is close to the ultra-right, is staying silent about the issue.
Massimo Mariotto, the boss of the Serit waste processing firm, which is sponsoring the concert of the Nazi-rock bands in Verona and a person who makes no secret of his ultra-right affiliations, is also keeping quiet about the event. Stella writes that he does not consider the concert to honor Palach, but to desecrate his memory.
In the context of Czech President Zeman's silence about the anniversary of Palach's death - i.e., the fact that no official state commemoration of it will be held - Mieli, who is also referred to by the Czech News Agency as the "doyen" of Italian journalism, also recalls the recent removal of the statue of Imre Nagy from Budapest's Martyrs' Square near the Hungarian Parliament. Mieli alleges the Czech Republic and Hungary, or rather Czech President Zeman and Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, are failing to honor figures symbolic of opposition to the Soviet regime.
Mieli reminds his readers that the Czechoslovak, Hungarian and Soviet authorities attempted to tarnish the legacies of Nagy and Palach for decades prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Both of these figures became symbols of the first protests held in the months leading up to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.
Five months after what was referred to as "Jan Palach Week" in Czechoslovakia, the death of the executed former Prime Minister of the Government of Hungary, Imre Nagy, was commemorated on 16 June 1989 by thousands of Hungarians, including Orbán himself, who has now removed the statue of Nagy as a symbol of the unsuccessful anti-communist Hungarian uprising of 1956. "The purpose of what is happening in two of these four Visegrád countries is to gradually erase from the memories of the Czechs and Hungarians not just the figures mentioned, but also the ceremonies that have been dedicated to them since the year 1989," Mieli believes.
A commemoration ceremony for Jan Palach is being organized on 16 January by the "Million Moments for Democracy" group. A commemorative march will proceed from Wenceslas Square to the Old Town Square in Prague that evening.
- Hungary: Mass demonstrations, protesters say PM endangers the rule of law
- Hungary: Roma Education Fund headquarters damaged by fire
- Hungarian Supreme Court says camerawoman who kicked asylum-seekers committed misdemeanor and can no longer be prosecuted
- Italian Deputy PM Salvini is behaving like a neo-Fascist, former Italian Labor Minister says
- Italy: Moroccan beaten to death, athlete of Nigerian origin attacked as fascists in the Govt spread racism
- Italian Police evict almost 400 Romani people from homes they have lived in since 2005, European Commission says it cannot take legal action
- Romania: 900 protest recent violence against Roma in Italy and Ukraine, more demonstrations in other European countries to follow
- Italy: Romani infant hospitalized after being shot with pellet gun
- Italy: Court in Rome convicts four perpetrators of 2011 pogrom on Romani camp in Turin
- Italy asks Czech Republic to receive asylum-seekers, Czech PM refuses
- European Parliament: Shouting matches over Italian "census" of Roma - Járóka finds it reasonable, Post calls for a halt
- Italian Interior Minister threatens to cancel police protection for crimefighting author who criticizes his anti-Roma attitude
- Czech Police say man and woman who committed racist attack against Romani children should be prosecuted
- Czech court overturns acquittal for author of racist online comments, prosecution will continue
- German media report that attacks on immigrants last year in Chemnitz were planned by the radical right
- Slovak MP insulted Romani people and spread xenophobia, loses his seat after being convicted of felony defamation
- Czech ice hockey friendly goes uncompleted after fans racially abuse Romani player and his team stops play in protest
- Commentary: Czech Interior Ministry is realizing ultra-nationalist politician is becoming a monster
- European Roma Rights Centre gives legal aid to victims alleging Slovak police brutality
- Czech man who gave Nazi salute at ultra-nationalist rally gets fine and suspended sentence, appeals
- Slovakia: Video of police intervention against Roma at gas station goes viral, sparks protests
- Czech politicians react to Communist MP's false allegation that honoring the Roma victims of Nazism has raised the price of pork
- VIDEO: Czech Police prevent neo-Nazis from assaulting Prague Pride participants
- Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini faces criticism for calling Romani woman a "dirty gypsy"