Jiří Jelínek

* 1967  

  • “Then came November 27th and we found out that there would be this strike. It came through the 'telephone' as always, they 'phoned' us from the cell above us that there would be general strike. So as a cell commander I would step forward and say: 'We are calling a strike.' And he would look at me as if I lost my mind, that first lieutenant. He said: 'What do you mean? What strike?' - 'Well, a strike, we are declaring a hunger strike, so no food for us.'” - “You went on a hunger strike as a diabetic?” - “Sure. Diabetes was not the issue. And we all got together. Vietnamese, Gypsy, this Jirka, who had no arms, we all decided that we won´t eat. Anyway, they used to give us this mess tin, with this brown sauce and some pasta in it. And as I was a diabetic, they would give me this gram of meat or two, just a tiny slice, which we would share, everyone would get a piece, we would sit together, so everyone would know how did it taste like. So we were telling ourselves: 'We will survive a day or two without those delicacies of yours!' So we said that we are calling a hunger strike, we would announce it, so it would spread all across the corridor and everyone wanted to join us. Every cell decided to go on hunger strike, we would discuss it by this 'telephone', by toilet. Se we were waiting for them to bring us lunch. As we made the announcement before lunch, at 9AM, after breakfast, so we were quite full and it wasn´t so bad. And we were telling ourselves: 'Well, there will be a lunch which we will refuse to eat, dinner – well, that would be just a bread and butter anyway, so we could eat it in the morning. And the hunger strike will prevail – great, we won.' But they said: 'No, no, no, they ordered that you have to take it inside!' And they would bring us this plate with French fries on it, with fried cheese, tartar sauce a knife and fork, there was even a cucumber. So we were quite amazed, and I would say: 'I think I must be dreaming.' - 'You have to take it to your cell and if you wouldn´t want it, we would take it away.' So they gave us the food which we would put on a table. And I said: 'Boys, what kind of a provocation is this? That´s a provocation!' As there had never been such a thing as French fries on a regular plate. There had been no such a thing. And we all began to drool, we would heart that in cells next to us they already started eating, that everyone was eating, the whole corridor. 'Boys, we will prevail, we are fighters! I wont´t eat, I am on hunger strike!' And even I would like to taste a bit, of course. But no one in our cell would eat. And I am telling you the truth. I told them: 'Boys, I started it, so I would be really ashamed if we would give them back empty plates. Eat it, if you want, but I am on a hunger strike.' And no one would take just a tiny bit, I was so proud of them, of our boys, of our cell no. 97, as we were a good one. And after they came back, we would hand it over. And everyone would be like: 'Did you see the cheese? That would be something!' And everyone would whine how bad it was that we would have to eat just bread. But then, at 1PM or 2PM maybe, they cell door would open: 'Jelínek, pack your things, you are going home.' And I thought they would beat me up. As it indeed looked like I had it all planned out. That I was doing this freedom fighter act, knowing that in just two hours I would have this fried cheese in some pub, maybe two of them. 'You bastard, you knew!' And I would say: 'How could I? No way. I will have a fried cheese after I will get out, but I didn´t know, I swear.' So I packed my stuff and got out in just in sandals, without socks, and the snow was falling, so it was quite cold. I went to a railway station, broke, I had no money, as they took me from the factory during an afternoon shift.”

  • “Did they ask you some more questions at the court? How did it look like?” - “I don´t remember much. As Hulík would speak for most of the time, I didn´t say much, I refused to comment on that. Of course, they wanted me to tell them who got me involved in such things, whether I was under the influence of 'Western centres of ideological diversion'. I told them that was ridiculous, that that´s how I felt it, that´s how it was. That I wouldn´t take it back, like this hero, I told them I wouldn´t, that I had the right to my opinion. I kept acting like this hero, and there were many people. So they would give me a one year sentence, I went out, people applauded me. And I would get in this Škoda 1203 van or what was the model of the car in which they brought me in, Avia maybe. And I would say: 'Well, here it is. A year in jail.' And I was going home after just eight days. Everyone was telling me: 'You planned it well, good timing.'” - “But back then, you didn´t know. Can you tell us how you felt after you learned about your sentence, a whole year? As you had this baby waiting for you at home.” - “I was shocked – a whole year. As I found it absurd that I was sentenced for a year for something like that, as I had no previous offenses. I expected them to send me home, as I was in custody, 'you have been in jail for few months, so go home now a and be good.' That was bad indeed, as I was telling myself: 'A year, so I have to spend another half a year in jail...' That was bad. Especially with the diabetes, as they wouldn´t do much about it. They came whenever they liked to. I would tell them: 'I have been doing this since I was sixteen, for six years I have been doing this myself, so give me a syringe and insulin, I will inject myself.' - 'That won´t do, that´s impossible, a physician has to come from a hospital by ambulance.' So I would be banging on the door: 'I can feel it now, it´s really bad, that´s hyperglycemia, I need insulin right now!' - 'Okay, we will call them.' That was bad, so I kept telling myself: 'So maybe I will just die in jail.'”

  • “On August 3rd 1989, I was doing an afternoon shift, and we were doing what we always did, we were sitting at a table talking. Then the phone rang, they were telling me to go to the gate, that someone came to visit me. I was thinking that someone wants to get something made again in the factory. So I put my slippers on, I put my shoes on and I went to reception. What followed was kind of a movie scene: 'Get in!', they opened the door, they did that thing with the head, they pushed me in a car, and I came back after half a year.” - “Can you tell us more? You would get in a car, was it a Zhiguli?' - “They took me to Tábor, to the Blue Star (Modrá Hvězda), this police fortress of sorts, where they would lock me up. There was this major Pulec, who was quite upset about that, as he didn´t know what was happening as he was with the criminal police. So he had to wait for some Secret police men to come from České Budějovice. He was so upset, he gave me an apple: 'I have no idea what´s going on here, Mr Jelínek! For Christ´s sake, what a mess, what do you want, after all, I have no clue what´s going on here.' I would say: 'Human rights, the Helsinki Accords...' I would tell him about all of these things and he kept telling himself: 'I have no clue what he´s talking about.' And we waited till 1 AM and after that we went to my flat where they did a house search. Maybe they were waiting for the kids to fall asleep, as back then, my daughter was fourteen days old. They stormed our flat, of course there were National Commitee representatives and some witnesses, and the people would gather in the corridor, wondering what was going on, as there were so many policemen. They would storm our flat, they went through everything, taking three boxes of stuff with them, audio tapes...”

  • Celé nahrávky
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    České Budějovice, 27.11.2019

    (audio)
    délka: 01:29:15
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

That´s how I feel it, that´s how it is

Jiří Jelínek was born on May 8th 1967 in Tábor to a blue-collar family. After finishing elementary school, he began to study at a secondary technical school. At the age of sixteen, he developed diabetes. He dropped out from the secondary school and joined the engineering training school. After completing his apprenticeship as a machine serviceman, he started to work as a maintenance man at Silon national enterprise in Planá nad Lužnicí. While growing up, he learned about the opposition to the regime, he had been reading banned books and magazines and listened to radio broadcasts from the ‚West‘. Since 1986, he had been copying samizdat materials. In 1989, he joined anti-regime protests in Prague (Praha), signed the Charter 77 declaration, organised petitions demanding the release of political prisoners, printed anti-regime posters and pasted them around Tábor. After unrolling a banner demanding Václav Havel to be released from prison at the Labour Day march in Prague (Praha) in 1989, he was arrested and detained briefly. In August 1989, he was arrested by the Secret Police (Stb) and night after that his house had been searched. He was charged with sedition and taken into custody. On November 9th 1989, Tábor court sentenced him for a year in prison. His lawyer appealed against the verdict and Jiří was sent back to custody. On November 27th 1989, the day of the general strike, he was released after a demand by the Civic Forum (Občanské fórum). After the revolution, he had been working various jobs: he was a used car salesman, a night club manager, a hotel manager and a blue-collar worker, he also ran a disco. In 2019, he has been living in Tábor.