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29. 2. 2008 14:25

February 29, 2008: Premier Mirek Topolánek Gives Josef and Ctirad Mašín a New Personal Award

Josef Mašín received the Czech Prime Minister’s honorary plaque with a medal in the residence of the Czech Ambassador in Washington also on behalf of his brother Citrad.

The distinction was awarded in recognition of the fact that the Mašín brothers, together with Milan Paumer, had engaged in active resistance against the communist regime in former Czechoslovakia after World War II. The Czech Premier will give Milan Paumer his distinction after return to Prague. Ctirad Mašín could not attend the award-giving ceremony. When bestowing the distinctions to the three men, Premier Mirek Topolánek was quoted as expressing the hope that this will lead to a nationwide discussion about the third (anti-Communist) resistance movement in former Czechoslovakia and eventually to reconciliation. “I’ve decided to award the Mašín brothers because it is vital to acknowledge the third resistance movement in our country,“ explained the Premier and added: “The Mašín brothers and their father made it quite clear that the fight for freedom and against totalitarian rule is always the same. It is invariably a struggle against violence. The Mašín brothers fought with arms in their hands. The third resistance movement in our country had its victims, its prisoners, its tortured and executed heroes,“ said the Czech Premier when giving the award to Josef Mašín.

The honorary plaque is not a state distinction but a newly established personal award given by the Czech Prime Minister. Inside the plaque there is a medal with a stone bearing an engraved Bohemian lion. The medal is set with Bohemian garnets. On Wednesday (February 27) the distinction was also awarded to Oscar Bisset, the jailed Cuban dissident sentenced to 25 year-imprisonment, and also - in memoriam - to Tom Lantos on the opening of the so-called Czech Caucus in the US Congress. The distinction to the late Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives, who died recently, was received by his widow, Annette Lantos. The key purpose of the Czech Caucus, which is made up of members of both chambers of the US Congress coming from both chief political parties, is to support Czech interests during parliamentary decision-making.

In an interview for the Czech Television Josef Mašín appreciated the Premier´s award. “The fight against communism has always been the right cause,“ said Mašín, Commenting on the negative response to the award in part of the Czech public, Mašín countered by pointing to the danger posed by lack of historical knowledge. In this connection he praised the recent establishment of the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. “The public must be told everything that happened in the era of communism in the country,“ concluded Josef Mašín.

Press Department of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic

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