CzechTek: A statement from the organizers

Today’s iDnes has a story about the continuing impacts from Prime Minister Stanislav Gross’ decision to send in riot police to end the CzechTek event. According to this story, police have questioned several eventgoers, and have filed charges against CzechTek’s organizers.

CzechTek’s organizers have issued a statement in Czech, and I am translating it without comment into English here:

We would like to take this opportunity to address the public and media, so that we can correct some of the disinformation related to this year’s CzechTek, and to react to the circumstances surrounding its end. Our festival is a regular pan-European meeitng of a community of people with a similar outlook, and we want nothing more than the opportunity to come together.

Every year we try to put this event together legally and as far away from civilization as possible; unfortunately in the Czech Republic, however, it is extremely difficult to do this. A legal location was under discussion, but was interrupted by state administration. We are happy that we were able to fulfill at least the second of these terms – the space where this year’s event took place was several kilometers from the nearest dwellings and was largely surrounded by forest, which effectively absorbed its noise. Mobile toilets were arranged.

As for environmental impacts, in our opinion and in the opinion of experts we have at our disposal, a one-week burden of this nature is something the local ecosystem recovers from quickly and without lasting consequences. Respect for nature – as absurd as it may seem to some – has been inseparable from the culture of free parties from their inception.

While during such an event a large amound of garbage is created, it is and always has been for us a matter of course that we would take care of its complete cleanup, and, in contrast to commercial events, it is eventgoers who clean the space for several days afterward.

This year, thanks to the “new approach” of Mr. Gross, this will not be possible, and the mess that was left after chasing off the last attendees from the field will remain his responsibility, not ours. Even so, if it would be possible (e.g. after the situation has calmed and the police have left), we are planning to return and voluntarily clean up, and we would like the public to know about this. Unfortunately, we cannot be completely sure the public will know, because this year, as in the past, part of the media has not avoided disinformation and inobjectivity.

The land’s renter was offered an amount to cover damages, and we wanted this year – as every year – to take care of the cleanup ourselves. The fields were also already harvested, therefore no direct damages occurred.

We are convinced that the “new approach” of Mr. Gross is motivated mainly by a need to curry favor with the part of the public that does not sympathize with our subculture, and not by an interest in the greater good. The use of water cannons, tear gas, confiscation of equipment and arrest without cause are a disproportionate reaction to a peaceful event; its participants were not interested in harming anyone.

We understand the position of those who say they they would otherwise support us if we respected the private propertyof the landowner. The land Czechtek took place on does not have a private owner – its owner is the Czech Republic – and this means this is public space, not private property.

Journalists frequently speak of Marianské lazně businessman Libor Lúdik as being the owner of the land, and Mr. Lúdik has already estimated the damages to “his” property. The truth is different. Mr. Lúdik, respectively his company Agroklad s.r.o., has signed a contract with the Czech Republic, according to which he receives a subsidy from the Agriculture Ministry for mowing his field several times a year.

Mr. Lúdik does not have any right to do anything more on the land the CzechTek event used than to mow it and collect a subsidy, so he has no right to allow or deny any other use of the land. Mr. Lúdik has announced in the media that “his” land suffered damages in the millions of crowns, but law number 151/1997 Sb. governing property valuation, in the sense of execution notice 540/2002 Sb., in agreement with supplement 19 of that notice, puts the value of the land at between 500 and 900 thousand crowns.

Because we are prepared to clean up the area after ourselves, no financial costs in this sense are incurred, but the question remains as to how a multimillion crown damage could have occurred to a property valued in the hundreds of thousands of crowns. It forces the thought that Mr. Lúdik has grown to enjoy his media role as the victim of property law gone unrespected, and now he is trying to exploit it for financial gain.

Several other residents of Boněnov, in whose district CzechTek lies, and who had not been bothered in any way, revealed that Mr. Lúdik was seeking in the near future to arrange a hunt for his friends, and was worried that the noise would startle the animals and complicate their shooting.

For a better understanding of the problem of “Ecological agriculture,” which Mr. Lúdik has discussed in the media, we recommend Marek Pokorný’s article “Biofarmers in the land of the bůček [something like Canadian bacon -ed] with the subtitle “The Czech Republic’s biofarms have as much area as Denmark, but they only grow grass,” which was printed in the weekly Respekt this Monday (2 August).

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