Citizens speak out about possible U.S. base in Czech Republic
On Tuesday evening, about 150 people attended a demonstration on Prague's Peace Square—or Namesti Miru. The gathering was organized by the Humane Party, a movement which includes numerous factions all united by their desire to prevent a possible U.S. anti-missile base on Czech territory.
"I'm a member of a revolutionary youth organization called Revolution, and we are part of the initiative against the U.S. military base here."
Why are you opposed to the U.S. military base on Czech territory?
"Because we are opposed to the American foreign policy, which we see as the reason for the state of the world today, for the wars which are waged not only in Lebanon, but also in the rest of the world. The base here in Europe—not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Poland or Britain—is part of strengthening such hegemony of the United States."
During the demonstration, another group holding black-on-white banners along the edge of Namesti Miru—or Peace Square—was escorted further away by the police. The banners gave away the fact that these citizens came to express support for a possible U.S. missile base in the Czech Republic, and Jiri Stanislav explains what the scuffle was all about:
What do your banners say?
"Let's step in front of them and I'll tell you: 'Any form of defense which is able to save the lives of our citizens, and our allies, is legitimate.'"
Why is the Humane Party, who officially organized today's protest, upset by your banners?
Senator Jaromir Stetina was also in the crowd at the demonstration, despite the fact that the "No to Bases" organizers said that having Mr. Stetina speak "would not be appropriate." After the official proceedings, Jaromir Stetina told me where he stands:
"I wanted to say a few words here, but the organizers wouldn't permit it. Basically, I wanted to say that I think to choose August 21st as the date for a demonstration to protest against the U.S. anti-missile base, and in this way to compare the Soviet invasion, or even the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia with this opportunity, is simply not historically accurate.
So it's clear that Czechs are forming strong opinions on the possible U.S. missile base in central Europe, and we can expect further demonstrations regarding the issue. To date, approximately 6000 Czechs have signed the petition against the proposed base. Meanwhile, the Americans are deciding on whether to propose that a base be housed in the Czech Republic or in Poland—or perhaps both countries. The decision may be heard next month.