Czech govt bans youth group, torpedoes democracy

News Analysis

The Czech Republic has become a testing ground for imperialist forces in Europe who seek to outlaw communist activity in the formerly socialist, now European Union-member states.

A case in point is the Czech government’s banning of the Communist Youth Union (KSM) on Oct. 12. Observers say the move sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of Europe and the world.

The government justified its decision by arguing “the KSM program states the necessity to replace private ownership of the means of production with public ownership.” According to government spokeswoman Majka Marsrikova, “This is against the constitution and is incompatible with fundamental democratic principles.”

In response, the youth group’s representatives categorically rejected the charge that their program is against the law and issued a statement exposing the political reasons behind the ministry’s decision. A legal defense campaign has started up both within the Czech Republic and internationally.

The KSM also vowed to continue its struggle to defend the rights of youth and students, young workers and unemployed and to struggle for socialism, regardless of the government’s ruling.

The ban is the result of a longstanding campaign on the part of the government to suppress the communist youth group’s activity, especially in light of its highly successful campaign against the building of U.S. military bases on Czech soil.

To date, local branches of the KSM have gathered over 50,000 signatures against the bases and are demanding that a public referendum on the issue be held. Communist Party deputies in Parliament are pushing for an extraordinary session to consider such a referendum.

Fears about possible U.S. military bases have mounted amid reports that the Pentagon is scheming to avoid public scrutiny by claiming that it only wants to build a radar station. However, given that a recent Gallop poll shows 51 percent of the population finds the proposed military bases “unacceptable” and 61 percent thinks the issue should be put to a referendum, the group’s petition drive has obviously touched a raw nerve.

Looking at the broader picture, anticommunist forces in the Czech Republic targeted the communist movement following the overthrow of socialism in that country, equating Communism with Nazism and penalizing communist activity and ideology.

For example, during last June’s general elections, Girzy Dolis, the Communist Party’s vice-president and a Parliament member, was viciously beaten. Election ballots cast by communist voters were stolen, and people who turned in such ballots to the authorities were rewarded.

Around the same time, government-sponsored T-shirts with the slogan “Fight for peace, kill a Communist” were widely circulated, even being sold in Czech embassies around the world.

The campaign against the KSM has been brewing for a long time. In November 2005, the Czech government demanded that the group change its program and constitution because it “projects the idea of class struggle, and is based on the theories of Marx, Engels and Lenin who call for the violent overthrow of society.”

The authorities gave the KSM a Dec. 31, 2005, deadline to renounce its communist identity. It refused to do so. Due to the massive mobilization of forces both inside and outside of the country, the ministry was forced to extend the deadline to March 4, 2006.

Tens of thousands of signatures against the proposed ban were collected worldwide via the Internet, including from the Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo, U2 singer Bono and Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas.

But the government refused to relent, and the anti-democratic, anticommunist ban has now been imposed. Progressive forces both in the Czech Republic and beyond it have denounced the move as a blow to democratic rights everywhere.

Laura Petricola (laurajopetricola@yahoo.com) writes from Athens, Greece.

TAKE ACTION

Protest ban on Czech youth group

Send a solidarity e-mail to the Communist Youth Union:

Sign the international petition protesting the ban:

Ask your union, student body, or organization to send a message to the Czech Ministry of the Interior, protesting the ban and demanding that it be immediately lifted: