Lo studente Jan Palach

Il 16 gennaio 1969 a Praga nella centralissima piazza San Venceslao Jan Palach, un ventenne studente di filosofia dell’Università Carolina, dopo essersi cosparso il corpo di liquido infiammabile, si dà fuoco. Il giovane uomo muore dopo tre giorni di sofferenze il 19 gennaio.

Jan Palach aveva aderito con slancio e partecipazione alla cosiddetta Primavera di Praga, vale a dire a quel tentativo di dare al socialismo un volto umano, un nuovo corso politico avviato da Alexander Dubcek, segretario del Partito Comunista Cecoslovacco a partire dal gennaio del 1968,il quale con il sostegno del popolo, dei lavoratori e degli intellettuali aveva progettato e intrapreso una serie di riforme democratiche volte a promuovere per tutti un’autentica  libertà di espressione e a garantire al paese un più equo sviluppo sociale.

La nazione accolse con entusiasmo e favore le possibilità proposte: nel paese, anche dal basso, si crearono vive discussioni tese a cambiare lo stato delle cose per creare una società migliore, più giusta. Tutto questo, però, fu per pochi mesi: considerato non ortodosso e pericoloso, il riformismo di Praga provocò la reazione del Partito Comunista Sovietico e nell’agosto del 1968 le truppe dell’Armata Rossa e di altri paesi del Patto di Varsavia invasero la Cecoslovacchia col pretesto di assicurarne l’ordine e la sicurezza.

L’occupazione sovietica fu osteggiata da gran parte della popolazione che vedeva così spezzate le speranze di libertà, indipendenza e benessere: Dubcek rimase a capo del partito ma le sue innovazioni subirono un fermo evidente.

Jan Palach

Jan Palach agì in questo contesto con la precisa volontà di metter in atto un’iniziativa eclatante e rivelatrice che potesse ridestare l’anima di una nazione spaventata e di fatto soggiogata. Con un ristretto gruppo di amici, compagni di università, decise di passare all’azione e, scelto dalla sorte, divenne la “Torcia umana numero 1”. Con il suo gesto di autoimmolazione Jan Palach assurse immediatamente a simbolo della resistenza antisovietica.

Nelle ore della sua agonia, rivendicando la sua azione estrema, fece capire di essersi ispirato ai monaci buddisti che si erano dati fuoco in Vietnam; protestando contro tutto ciò che accadeva nel suo paese, contro la mancanza di libertà di parola e di stampa, ebbe ancora la forza di dire:<<Non vogliamo essere troppo presuntuosi…Semplicemente non dobbiamo pensare troppo a noi stessi.

L’uomo deve lottare contro il male che riesce ad affrontare>>. Al suo funerale a Praga, il 25 gennaio, partecipò una folla silenziosa e commossa di più di mezzo milione di persone.

Il regime politico contro cui Jan Palach espresse la sua testimonianza critica di dissidente durò ancora per vent’anni per poi dissolversi nell’autunno 1989, all’indomani del crollo del muro di Berlino, in seguito a imponenti e pacifiche manifestazioni di piazza.

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