Patrice Salzenstein, French peace movement

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Prague (Czech Republic), 2008.06.23 Meeting with Jan Tamas, one of the leaders of the Czech peace coalition, who went on hunger strike in May 2008

Who are these incredible Czech citizens who resist NATO and fight against the US Missile Defence bases in the Czech Republic?

Just few hundred metres from Vaklavske Namesti, in the centre of Prague, Jan Tamas, is welcoming me today, Monday 23rd of June 2008. Friendly welcome by Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar, the two Czech pacifists who went on hunger strike between 13th of May and 3rd of June, 2008.

For the last two years, a large coalition of organizations has disrupted the projects of NATO headquarters and its military goals. This mobilization is strong, but it is not just because the Czech inhabitants directly feel the danger because it is the first time that a strategic military base could be situated close to a large agglomeration, it is first of all because this peace coalition is based on a broad coalition of organizations such as Humanisticke Hnuti (Humanist movement), Greenpeace, Mayors for Peace, Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), Czech Social Democrat Party (CSSD) and also trade-unionists and citizens. When the Czech people learnt that their government was negotiating the installation of a new base of the US missile defence [1], in Brdi region, 60 km south west from Prague, the mobilisation did not decrease, with the organization of demonstrations in Prague, petitions, spectacular events such as a big balloon against the US missile defence in Prague, and also international conferences with celebrities. Jan Tamas travelled all over Europe and was even in the USA to meet the American Congress. Despite a large majority of 2/3 of Czech people rejecting the radar base [2], the Czech government has continued to negotiate with the US government and even planned to sign a treaty on the 5th of May 2008. That was why the hunger strike was decided upon. As a first victory, the planned date was postponed several times, by the confused government, and finally, a new date of the 8th of July was announced, when the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice should come to Prague to sign the treaty.

The pacifist coalition says that a big demonstration will be organized for this date, called D-day, precisely at 18 .00 on Vaklavske Namesti. A meeting of the Czech coalition for peace is planned on the 9th of July at the European parliament at least with MEP from Social-democrat, left, and Green groups. Humanisticke Hnuti also will organised a conference on 17th of July with the vice-chairman of the European parliament, Dennis Kucinich, member of US Congress, and Jan Tamas.

The mobilization will not end even after the Treaty between the Czech and US governments is signed. The treaty would have to be approved by the parliament. That's why another big battle is expected in autumn as the parliament is divided fifty fifty, by this sensitive question for Czech citizens. Communist of the KSCM and most of the Socialists from CSSD are strongly opposed to the installation of the US radar in Czech Republic, Greens (members of centre-right coalition at the government) are divided by this issue, such as right parties.

As with David against Goliath, and thanks to his humanist fight for peace and against nuclear weapons, NATO and US missile defence, one can be sure that Jan Tamas will be a strong adversary of the dangerous US plans.

[1] « Non au bouclier antimissile » Planète Paix, No 529, février 2008

[2] According to the pools 66 to 70% of Czech citizens are opposed to the US missile defence

Jan Tamas (Humanisticke Hnuti) & Patrice Salzenstein (Mouvement de la Paix)

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