Political evictions in Prague

October 2, 1991

Political evictions in Prague

By Sally Low

PRAGUE — The International Union of Students, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the International Organisation of Journalists are fighting moves by the Czechoslovak government to evict them from their headquarters here.

On September 4, members of the three organisations received letters saying their permits to operate in Czechoslovakia had been withdrawn. They were given 15 days to appeal the decision.

Last November the government told IUS and IOJ they must end their activities in the country by June 30. However, in April Prime Minister Marion Calfa announced an investigation had found no legal grounds to terminate their activities or those of WFTU.

The main accusations against the organisations appear to be that they had close links with the former regime. IUS secretary general Giorgos Michaelides says politically motivated sections of the local media have run "unsubstantiated lies" speculating that the IUS is "a hive of spies, training young terrorists, selling weapons and even drugs".

At an extraordinary congress in April the current IUS secretariat was given a limited mandate to prepare the 16th Congress, due to be held in Prague in December. Some previously unaffiliated student bodies from Western Europe and North America are considering membership or have already joined.

Member and non-member organisations from Canada, the USA, France, Belgium and many Third World countries and youth organisations have sent messages of protest to the government.

Alexander Zharikov, president of the WFTU, says that the decision is politically motivated and based on an incorrect assessment of his organisation's record. In August 1968 WFTU was almost evicted from Prague because it protested against the Warsaw Pact invasion of the country. WFTU also supported a protest made by Charter 77 to the International Labour Organisation against some of the practices of the former regime here.

Issue