News of Radio Prague

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Czech towns express support for Tibetan people

Some 120 town halls around the country have been flying the Tibetan flag this weekend in support of independence for the Tibetan people living under Chinese military rule. In Moravia, an ultra-light aircraft carrying the Tibetan flag and a 10m long banner reading "Freedom to Tibet" cruised over Znojmo for three hours. Further north, some one hundred people planted trees along a pond in the district of Olomouc and to the east in Ostrava, tens of people painted the Tibetan flag on the town's Masaryk Square. On March 10th 1959, a people's uprising was suppressed in Tibet's capital Lhasa and the nation's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was forced into exile. Since the fall of Communism in 1989, numerous organisations have held campaigns in the Czech Republic to inform the people of human rights violations in Tibet. Town halls in the Czech Republic first joined the global "Flag for Tibet" campaign in 1996 when four towns hoisted the Tibetan flag.

Benes Decrees criticised by Austrian senior politicians

Austria's Vice-Chancellor, Susanne Riess-Passer, said on Saturday that it ought to be secured that the Benes Decrees, or at least the decrees which violate human rights, cease being part of the Czech judicial code. Mrs Riess-Passer was speaking to hundreds of Austrian Sudeten Germans who held a conference in Vienna to mark the 83rd anniversary of a Sudeten German uprising in Czechoslovakia in 1919, at which 54 of the protesters calling for self-determination died. In a letter addressed to the conference participants, the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel also expressed sympathy, writing that the Benes decrees - which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans and thousands of ethnic Hungarians from Czechoslovakia after WWII - had no place in European law today and must therefore become a matter of the past before the Czech Republic enters the European Union.

Poll: 58% of Austrians say Benes decrees should not hinder Czech membership of EU

Whilst several Austrian politicians have called for the Benes decree problem to be solved before the Czech Republic's entry into the European Union, an opinion poll conducted for the Austrian Association for European Politics showed that the Austrian people did not want the Czech Republic's entry be hindered by the decrees. When asked whether Austria should only agree to Czech EU membership if the Sudeten Germans expelled through the Benes decrees received compensation from the Czech Republic, 58% of the one thousand Austrians polled said 'no' whilst only 29% said 'yes'. The remaining 13% was not sure.

Senate passes bill on opening StB files

The Czech Senate has passed a bill allowing Czech citizens to look at almost all documents gathered by the former communist secret police the StB. The Senate-proposed bill was passed by the Lower House at the beginning of January and has yet to be signed by the President. StB documents which could harm the state's security interests or threaten human lives will not be made available. Currently people can only see their own StB files.

Budapest's mayor offers RFE/RL move to Hungarian capital

The U.S. funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has turned down an offer made by the mayor of Budapest, Gabor Demszky to move the station's headquarters to the Hungarian capital. Mr Demszky visited RFE/RL, located in Prague's city centre, on Friday to talk about co-operation within the Visegrad Group. Ever since the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, the station has been viewed as a potential terrorist target in Prague. Security was stepped up on September 27th 2001, when the Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross ordered for armoured personnel carriers and elite troops to be deployed outside the building upon the receipt of information of a planned terrorist attack. The Czech government is now in discussion with RFE/RL about a possible move to a less populated area either outside or in the suburbs of the capital.

Czech family demands compensation from Prague hospital

A family from the Moravian town of Jindrich na Bruntalsku has accused a hospital in Prague of having mixed-up the names of two patients and as a result notified the wrong family when one of them died. Last year in October, two men were seriously injured from an explosion at an industrial area close to Prague. They were admitted to the hospital with third degree burns. After one of them died four days later, doctors mistakenly contacted the family of the other man. It spent 80,000 Czech crowns on a funeral just to find out later that the man they thought they had buried was still alive and in hospital. The family now demands compensation but the hospital claims it was not at fault and that the unfortunate mix-up must have been the result of a number of coincidences.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday will have overcast to clear skies with temperatures between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.