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PM warns of forgetting history at opening of project

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Prague, Nov 1 (CTK) – History tends to be repeated and forgetting along with ignorance facilitate the repetition of mistakes, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said at the opening of the 12th project of the Stories of Injustice on Tuesday.

The project is to present the fates of the people persecuted under the Communist regime to the new generation.

“The Stories of Injustice show how much human courage is needed for justice to win at least in some cases over arbitrariness and freedom over an undemocratic crusade,” Sobotka said.

It was enough to have a different political thinking to be persecuted by the Communist regime, he added.

This year, the Stories of Injustice were devoted to the memory of Catholic priest Josef Toufar who died in a Communist jail from the consequences of a torture.

A prize was given to Pater Ondrej, an abbot of the monastery in Sokolov, west Bohemia.

He spent 11 years in prison for having provided a shelter in the monastery to a persecuted priest and let two students who were about to emigrate to spend a night there.

Another prize went to Jiri Svetlik who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for treason because he helped prisoners in forced labour camps.

“I was not doing what I could, but what I had to do,” Svetlik said, adding that he had acted in the spirit of the scout oath.

He spent most of the time in the uranium mines in the Jachymov region, west Bohemia.

A similar fate befell teacher Frantisek Teply from Dolni Roven, east Bohemia, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for sedition.

The awarded persons were selected by students themselves “from among the people about whom we did not know for 40 years,” Slovak actress and politician Magda Vasaryova, who was given one of the prizes, said.

Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said the Communist regime had persecuted hundreds of thousands of people, but the stories of concrete people gave a specific dimension.

The audience applauded Ukrainian Hennadiy Afanasyev who spent two years in a Russian prison because he disagreed with Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

This year, the project is to familiarise pupils and students with the stories of the people who were forced out of their homes for various reasons.

At schools, there will be projections of the films about the post-war transfer of Germans, forced resettlement and internment of monks, the provocations by the Communist secret police on those who wanted to leave abroad and about the building of the barbed-wire border.

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