[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #4, Jan. 25, 1974, pp. 14-15.]
ON January 16 five years ago, Jan Palach, a 21-year-old student of Charles University in Prague, burnt himself to death in the capital’s Wenceslas Square in protest against the armed occupation of his country by the Soviet revisionists. Self-cremation is itself a passive act, but the suicide was after all an expression of the utmost indignation of the Czechoslovak people at being trampled underfoot and their strong protest against the Soviet revisionist occupiers.
In Prague, hundreds of thousands of people joined the funeral procession which turned out to be a demonstration against the new tsars of Soviet revisionism. Since then Palach has always been remembered by his people. Palach’s grave at Olsany Cemetery in Prague had no plaque bearing his name, but almost every day flowers or candles are placed there to honour his memory.
The Czechoslovak people’s mourning for him is a silent protest against the Soviet revisionist occupiers. The spectre of this Czechoslovak patriot now at rest gives the chieftains in the Kremlin sleepless nights.
The Soviet revisionist overlords were uneasy, and last August they ordered a wooden palisade which rose overnight around the grave. But the next day saw a steady stream of mourners pouring into the cemetery. They laid wreathes at the foot of the palisade and then left in a sullen mood.
The die-hard occupiers never give up. Last October 26, it was reported, they had Palach’s remains secretly dug up, cremated and the ashes taken away. One of the Soviet revisionist renegades’ pet projects has been to dig up the grave and bum the remains of the dead, but when they had to do this again on another country’s soil, shaking in their boots at an ordinary young patriot, it shows how they seem strong outwardly but are fragile inwardly.
The Czechoslovak people are furious at this despicable and cowardly act on the part of the Soviet revisionists. Jan Palach’s grave has been demolished, but people keep streaming to the site to place their offerings on the mound there. A woman spelt out the initials J.P. with candles. Another mourner angrily said: “They have taken him away, but he is still here symbolically.”
Soviet revisionists’ tanks rumbled into Prague more than five years ago and all of Czechoslovakia was under occupation. They thought their tanks were all-conquering and these tanks would make a nation succumb to their rule. But they are completely wrong. The incident of removing the remains of Jan Palach shows that tanks may roam the country but they can never crush the will of a people who aspire to freedom and independence.
The contradiction between the Soviet revisionist ruling clique and the Czechoslovak people is one between occupation and opposition to occupation, between enslavement and opposition to enslavement. The Czechoslovak people’s struggle against aggression will never cease as long as the Soviet revisionist occupation troops remain in the country. Where there is oppression, there is resistance. This is an irrefutable truth. The Soviet revisionist “temporary” occupation of Czechoslovakia lie can no longer fool anyone. More than five years have passed, but how long will this “temporary stationing” continue? The harsh reality is that once the Soviet revisionists have occupied a place by force, they will not easily give it up.
The Czechoslovak people who cherish independence and freedom have persevered in their just struggle against Soviet revisionist occupation. There will be no tranquillity in Czechoslovakia before the withdrawal of the Soviet revisionists’ occupation troops. The flowers and candles at the grave of Jan Palach have been an inspiration and hope to the Czechoslovak people. The candlelight of national hatred will eventually enkindle a raging flame of resistance. The occupiers may have tanks, but truth is on the side of the people. Truth will win out and the occupiers are sure to lose.
Return to Peking Review article list
MASSLINE.ORG Home Page