February 6, 2006

Stop the ban on the KSM!

The youth wing of the third-largest political party in the Czech Republic is about to be made illegal, according to an recent government letter sent to the Czech Communist Youth Association (KSM).

The letter, entitled “Warning and Precept,” has received condemnation from youth and student organizations internationally, including the Young Communist League of Canada who are planning a protest on February 14th at the Czech embassy in Ottawa and Czech consulates across the country.

“This attack against the KSM is an attack against the whole communist movement in the Czech Republic” said Radim Gonda vice-president of the KSM responsible for international relations in a statement. “It is a part of a large anticommunist campaign in our country and in Europe.”

As reported in the last issue of People’s Voice, in January 2006 the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a reactionary resolution entitled "Need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes." Protest campaigns prevented approval of the repressive enforcement measures, however.

A flood of letters, petitions and protests from around the world also helped the European Union announce in early February that it would reject calls for a proposed Europe-wide ban on Nazi symbols to be extended to Communist Party symbols.

The Czech Communist Party is the third largest political party in the Czech Chamber of Deputies. It’s autonomous youth contingent, the KSM, works actively in fights like those against rising college fees, and public transit ticket prices. It stands for peace, jobs and higher wages.

“The KSM does not promote hate, racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism.” said Stephen Von Sychowski, a leading member of the YCL Canada. Von Sychowski met and discussed various political concerns with several members of the KSM at the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in Venezuela this past summer. “A vital part of their activities are actually in the anti- racism, anti-war anti-fascist and anti-imperialist movements. Yet this association is about to be banned.”

Officially, the Czech Home Office sites two reasons to ban the KSM. First, they claim the KSM’s goals interfere with those of political parties. “However, the KSM does not differ from other youth political organizations like the Young Conservatives, Young Social Democrats, Young Christian Democrats, etc. So this attack is clearly political,” Gonda noted in the KSM statement.

“The other ground used by the Home Office for its attack was openly ideological,” Gonda adds. The ministry demands the KSM to renounce its political program, goals, and theory because it supports socialist revolution.

“To show you how ridiculous the attack against the KSM is I will quote from the letter,” Gonda explains. It says: ‘In terms of quotations from works of Marx, Engels and Lenin (see the banner MARXISM directly on the main internet page of the KSM), from whose teaching the KSM stems, there is no way but to state, that the approach of the KSM to Marxist-Leninist ideology is not neutral, that the KSM is concerned not only to inform the public about Marxism-Leninism or to publish historical documents, but to promote it consciously, in the context of the aims expressed in “the Political Programme of KSM.’

“What can the KSM reply?” Gonda continues. “Yes, we are for socialism, yes, we want to overcome capitalism, yes, we want to achieve it by the masses of the working people. Yes, we offer for free the texts of classics of Marxism on our web page.”

Thus, the ban is really a ban on an alternative to the current situation in the Czech republic, a country where unemployment is at 20% in some regions. In the 2002 elections, the Czech Communist party won 20% of the vote. In 2004, the European elections the party won second place, taking six seats. “They’re a threat to the ruling elite, not to democracy,” said Sychowski,

The attack against the KSM is just the latest in an anti-communist campaign that is expanding. Both the hammer and sickle and the red star are illegal in Hungary, for example. Another attempt in the Czech Republic was a petition by two far-right senators.

“Let’s abolish the communists” the petition was entitled, demanding a law criminalizing communist ideas, movements and the very word “communist,” placing them in the same category as fascism.

In recent days the House of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic has also passed a new Penal Code according which it is a criminal act to approve of and/or deny Nazi and so-called “communist crimes.”

This legislation re-writes history, for it was the Communists together with other progressives who overcame fascism in Eastern Europe and Russia. As Albert Einstein said when the unbeaten Nazi machine was stopped in Stalingrad: "Without Russia, those blood dogs [...] would have obtained their goal, or in any case, would have been close to it."

To find out more about the February 14th protest and subsequent solidarity actions, email: ycl_ljc@ycl-ljc.ca

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