Prague - Speakers at a Prague meeting marking 66 years since the student march against the then Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia today warned of the present Communists´ efforts to challenge the crimes of communism.
Protestní shromáždění s názvem Nedovolme návrat komunistů k moci se uskutečnilo 25. února v Praze na Staroměstském náměstí. ČTK Doležal Michal
On February 25, 1948, the communist-controlled police used force to stop the university students walking to Prague Castle in support of then President Edvard Benes and democracy.
"The communists soon showed to them what sort of people they were. They showed that violence was the instrument of their government and lie was the instrument of their propaganda," Frantisek Sedivy, deputy head of the Political Prisoners´ Confederation, said.
He spoke about the communist persecution of "bothersome" students and teachers, many of whom were imprisoned and some executed.
He recalled student protests from 1969, following the Soviet-led invasion of the country, and 1989, when students contributed to toppling the communist regime.
Addressing the rally, Senate deputy chairman Premysl Sobotka (Civic Democrats, ODS) said some of the present Communists, judging by their latest statements, would undoubtedly like again to celebrate February 25, 1948 as the "working people´s victory."
Sobotka said many Czechs do not realise that the "advocates of the criminal past have neither changed nor do they want to change."
Drawing a lesson from the communist past should be a part of everyone´s basic education so that "we could react in time to further new, modified totalitarian tendencies that threaten our freedom and democracy," Sobotka added.
Unlike their predecessors in 1948, the students, including former students, today completed their march to Prague Castle where they laid flowers at the statue of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the founding father and first president of Czechoslovakia (1918-35).
During the February 1948 coup, the Communist Party (KSC) took over power in Czechoslovakia after a government crisis. On February 25, President Benes accepted the resignation of 12 ministers for the non-communist parties and filled the vacancies with candidates proposed to him by the Communist PM Klement Gottwald.
Czechoslovakia then became the Soviet Union´s satellite, a position that ended only in late 1989.
Over 262,000 political prisoners went through Communist jails between 1948 and 1989. Up to 3000 people died during the police attempt to arrest them, in prison or forced labour camps.
According to official information, 241 people were sentenced to death and executed for anti-communist activities, the last of them in November 1960.