Young Czechoslovak teacher passing through Paris, Petr Uhl had acquired a taste for revolution in the effervescence of May 68. This taste must have cost him dearly: back in Prague, a fight lasting two decades, interspersed with long stays in prison, was waiting for him before being able to find, in 1989, this freedom which he so valued. Left dissident, companion of Vaclav Havel, journalist, francophile, Petr Uhl died on 1is December in Prague, at the age of 80.
Born October 8, 1941 in the Czechoslovak capital, he obtained an engineering degree in 1963 and opted for education. As a student, he had met Alain Krivine in Moscow at the International Youth Festival and befriended him during a trip to Paris; “It is in this milieu of the far left, he will tell the World, that my political opinions were forged. “ Petr Uhl created the Revolutionary Youth Movement, which earned him his first arrest in 1969, in full normalization after the Soviet intervention which had crushed the “Prague Spring”; he is sentenced to four years in prison.
The creation of Charter 77 and VONS
He continued to fight after his detention and organized, with the playwright Vaclav Havel and a few other dissidents, Charter 77, around which the opposition to the communist regime was to crystallize. He published an underground bulletin and also co-founded the VONS, Committee for the Defense of Unjustly Prosecuted Persons. Petr Uhl was arrested again in 1979, along with Havel, Jiri Dienstbier and Vaclav Benda, companions of Charter 77. This time it will be for five years.
The country they find on leaving is hard. Havel, Uhl, Dientsbier and their dissident friends are isolated, ostracized, constantly watched. In front of the building that houses the apartment where Petr Uhl lives, in the center of Prague, with his wife Anna Sabatova – daughter of Jaroslav Sabata, figure of the “Prague Spring”, she is also an activist of Charter 77 – and their children, cameras record their comings and goings and those of their visitors. Because in this silent country, the door of Petr Uhl and Anna Sabatova remains courageously open to those who need help or to journalists from abroad. Perfect French-speaking, Petr Uhl, lively, warm and welcoming, never shies away from his creaky humor, even at the darkest moments.
The fall of the regime is slower in Prague than in Warsaw
The Czechoslovak glacis finally began to crack in 1988, as Poland and Hungary launched the final assault on the Soviet empire. On December 9, 1988, President François Mitterrand came on an official visit to Prague and took the unprecedented initiative of inviting a group of dissidents to a breakfast at the French Embassy, thus showing invaluable support for this democratic opposition; Petr Uhl is there, alongside Havel and Dientsbier.
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Czech dissident and journalist Petr Uhl dead