Zina Freundova - on the loss of memory

Almost exactly a year ago, five members of the communist era political police the StB and officials from the communist Interior Ministry were sentenced in Prague for abuse of office in cases that date back more than two decades. In the late 1970s and 80s, the secret police mastermind a campaign code-named "Asanace" or "Clearance" which used intimidation and violence to force anti-Communist dissidents to flee the country. The plan was launched by communist Interior Minister Jaromir Obzina. Mr Obzina himself was charged with abuse of office, but due to various reasons, his trial was adjourned a few times. Two weeks ago Jaromir Obzina died of cancer, at the age of seventy-three. The "Asanace" plan targeted some fifty dissidents between 1977 and 1985. Among those who fled under the pressure was former dissident Zina Freundova. Here she recalls the events of one night in 1981 but also the atmosphere of last year's trials.

"In my case the pressure culminated one night in October 1981. I was alone in my flat in Prague and at 2.30 am three agents forced their way in and viciously attacked me and tried to rape me. The attackers had a reputation among us, dissidents, as the 'exile enforcement squad'. I recognised two of them. What they made clear to me that night was that they operated with absolute impunity, they were free to do whatever they liked and we had no place or no one to appeal to. They understood that there would be no consequence for them. On the contrary, they were awarded and praised for their diligence. After my testimony during the trial, they had an absolute loss of memory. My interrogator had the gall to say that he had never ever in his life interrogated me, let alone attacked me. However, there was enough evidence to prove otherwise. The trials have been a painful process. Before they started, I was afraid that I would be humiliated again and the crime might not be even acknowledged. Acknowledgment seemed enough for me. But after experiencing the arrogance of the accused I came to the conclusion that their crimes should not only be acknowledged but also punished. Those who attacked me and those who came up with the 'Asanace' plan all suffered from a lack of memory and the former Interior Minister and his highly positioned subordinates also claimed no direct knowledge of 'Asanace'. If I could believe that they were not aware of what was going on under their command, it only means that they were incompetent but not that they were not responsible."