Prague, May 2 (CTK) – Czech psychologist and dissident Dana Nemcova, 83, signatory of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto, has won the 2016 Arnost Lustig Prize for her civil courage, Pavel Kucera, spokesman for the award organisers, has told CTK.
Nemcova has been the sixth laureate of the prize bearing the name of Czech Jewish writer Arnost Lustig (1926-2011) who wrote stories related to the Holocaust.
The 14-member committee, electing the laureates, awarded Nemcova for her courage, justice and humanity and it appreciated her lifelong stances.
Nemcova ranks among the leading Czech Catholic intellectuals. She and her husband, psychologist and philosopher Jiri Nemec (1932-2001), were among the initiators of the Charter 77 manifesto and anti-communist movement. Nemcova later became one of the Charter 77 spokespersons.
Nemcova, mother of seven children, was persecuted and interrogated by the communist secret police (StB) and she spent a couple of years in a communist prison. In 1978, she co-founded the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS) that helped victims of the communist injustice.
After the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, Nemcova was shortly involved in politics. Se became a deputy to the Federal Assembly, Czechoslovak parliament.
After the first wife of president Vaclav Havel, Olga, died in 1996, Nemcova took over the management of the Good Will Committee charity organisation, established by Olga Havlova. Nemcova also helped refugees from the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. She says she still considers the aid to war victims necessary at present.
In the past, the Arnost Lustig Prize went to Catholic Bishop Vaclav Maly, moderator Kamila Mouckova and journalist and WWII fighter Bedrich Utitz, for instance.
The prize was founded by the Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce in 2011 to support the writer’s legacy.
It has been annually presented to one living personality for the development of moral values in society since 2012. The laureates are selected by the prize’s committee, comprised of 14 personalities of Czech culture, politics and science, including cardiovascular surgeon Jan Pirk, journalist Jefim Fistejn, physician Ilja Kotik, Franz Kafka Society director Marketa Malisova, sociologist Jirina Siklova and Charles University Rector Tomas Zima.