published: 08.02.2013, 16:57 | updated: 08.02.2013 17:12:14
Prague - Czech government MPs walked out of the Chamber of Deputies´ session today in protest at Communist Miroslav Grebenicek challenging student Jan Palach´s self-sacrifice in 1969 as a step aimed against the communist totalitarian rule.
Grebenicek, former head of the junior opposition Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), commented on a bill submitted by several government deputies, under which January 16, the anniversary of Palach´s self-immolation, should be declared a memory day in the Czech Republic.
Palach, a student of medicine, set himself on fire on January 16, 1969 as a gesture to prevent the creeping lethargy in society after the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia that crushed the Prague Spring communist reform movement a few months before. He succumbed to the burns sustained three days later.
In his speech, Grebenicek admitted that "it is reasonable to remember Jan Palach´s sacrifice."
At the same time, however, he accused the bill´s authors of an incorrect interpretation of historical events and expedient adjusting of the past.
"The assertion that Jan Palach became a symbol of the struggle against the totalitarian communist power is totally misleading. Jan Palach did not set himself on fire in protest against the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC). He felt affection mainly for the reform communists," Grebenicek, who is considered a representative of the Stalinist wing in the KSCM, said.
Chamber of Deputies chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova (ODS) said ethical limits should be respected.
She said Grebenicek, in his expedient speech, has put facts totally upside down...and abused [history] to make up a strange story about Jan Palach actually taking the step out of his love for the Communist party."
Senior opposition Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek said he views Palach as a man who "tried to stand up to the atmosphere and the cowardice that, unfortunately, appeared in our country both during the German protectorate and after the 1968 occupation."
He said he understands Grebenicek´s idea of Palach´s action not aiming a priori against the Communist party. Nevertheless, Palach´s self-sacrifice was aimed against the totalitarian regime, Zaoralek pointed out.
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