Journalist and dissident Petr Uhl died, he was 80 years old

Uhl was one of the most prominent figures in Czechoslovak dissent and did not remain out of public life even after November 1989. In the early 1990s, he ran the Czechoslovak Press Office. “Petr Uhl was the director of the Czechoslovak Press Office in dramatic post-revolutionary times. In this capacity, he laid the foundations for its transition from a state to a public law agency,” Jiří Majstr, the general director of ČTK, said today.

Later, he worked for many years as a commentator for the daily Právo, to which he stopped contributing in 2015. He then wrote for the online newspaper Referendum and other online media.

Uhl was a co-founder, signatory and activist of Charter 77, and was also at the birth of the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS).

After November 1989, he joined the Civic Forum (OF), for which he was elected a member of the Left Alternative as a member of the House of Peoples of the Federal Assembly in 1990. In the 1990s he was a member of the Civic Movement, between 2002 and 2007 he was in the Green Party, for which he ran for the Chamber of Deputies in 2006, but he did not become a Member of Parliament. During the Social Democratic government of Miloš Zeman, he became the Government Plenipotentiary for Human Rights and also sat on the Czech Television Council.

Uhl never hid his left-wing stances and held views that were not always popular, such as the post-war expulsion of the Germans. “I consider the so-called expulsion to be an expulsion which, in the conditions of a Czechoslovak state that wanted to be democratic, cannot be justified by Nazi crimes,” he said 13 years ago when he received the Charles IV Award from the Sudeten German Expatriate Association.

Petr Uhl first appeared in prison in 1969 as a representative of the Revolutionary Youth Movement, in which students of the Faculty of Arts in Prague were particularly involved. In 1971, Uhl, tried along with others in one of the first political trials since 1968, left the court with a four-year unconditional sentence for subverting the republic. After his release, he worked, among other things, as a designer, and at the end of 1976 he joined the circle of authors of Charter 77 and among its first signatories. Shortly afterwards, he also co-founded the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted.

Uhl was sentenced for the second time for his activities in the committee, and served a five-year sentence in Mírov and Vinařice. After his release, he worked as a fireman until his last arrest. He was last imprisoned on November 19, 1989 for spreading the news of the alleged death of student Martin Šmíd at a demonstration on Národní třída. His prosecution was stopped a week later.

Uhl has won a number of awards, such as the Medal of Merit of the First Degree, which was awarded to him by President Václav Havel in 1998, as well as high Polish, German and French honors. In 2018, at the presentation of the Karel Havlíček Borovský Journalist Awards for 2017, he received the Opus Vitae Award for lifelong promotion of justice, human rights and personal bravery.

He and Anna Šabatová had three children.

Source: EuroZprá by

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