Bohuslav Beňo

* 1951

  • “I would like to mention an example for those who assisted Meciar, then left him claiming they were unaware of what he was doing. In September or October in 1990 in Papiernička, a meeting of functionaries and deputies was held at facility of National Council. One of the topics was the constitutional organization of federal Czechoslovakia. Slovakia’s role in it was discussed. The prime minister Vladimír Mečiar had a long speech. I am certain, that for many the subject of his speech was unclear. He was talking about the nature of the constitution and such things. But I as a lawyer found it very strange. Already during the speech, Jano Mlynárik, a historian from Poltar and dissident (maybe the name sounds familiar to you) stood up and shouted:”Duce, duce, duce!” and left. Meciar finished, and Ernest Valko, who was responsible for preparation of the new constitution, harshly said:”Mr.Prime Minister, you have prepared an office type constitution! However, our task is to prepare a parliamentary, not office, constitution. Who gave you such permission?!” Then I became alert- the prime minister was preparing something against the most important document-the new constitution”

  • “I perceived the 50s as a child, but in connection with my grandfather, who was still a private farmer. Once, I was accidentally with my father- teacher on the District Committee of Comunist Party in Modrý Kameň. As a small boy, I heard how them shouting at him about how his father dares to remain a private farmer and refuses to enter Unified Farmers Cooperative. Already as a child, I found these manners strange- someone shouts at your father, and he remains silent. It was very humiliating.”

  • “I returned home after the first year at university and mother said to me, that policemen from border patrol were looking for me, and I was expected to report to them. I answered, I don’t have a reason for that. She, presumably based on experience, insisted I go, because something was happening. I came to the Border Control department in the neighbouring municipality, Bušince, where the chiefs were also members of StB. It began with a curiosity, they showed me weapons confiscated from a boy five years older than me, who claimed he had received them from us. As 13-year-old boys, we knew about these weapons since this was a land, through which passed both the partisans from Slovak National Uprising and later the frontline during WW2. People kept those weapons illegally, it was a little secret. It wasn't common, but many had some army rifles hidden in their attic. We told it to the eighteen year old boy, he took the weapons and that was it. The chief of border control however accused us of plans to sell the weapons to counter-revolutionaries in Bratislava. I defended myself- I was a child. He insisted that it happened in a certain context, that we would close the case and I would be treated as a person who in a significant way participated on planning counter-revolution. Then he said, that I can be cleared of this charge through beneficial behaviour. I was supposed to find out some information about in a small village, in which I lived regarding certain things, certain people, and their meeting point. I refused, that I would not do this. He said, thus I would be expelled from university, in addition with this grave charge, and who knows what impact it would have on my future. And I said I would not do that. I went home and waited for a decision from Bratislava about being expelled from the university.”

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There’s no future without freedom. It has to be the condition, not a possibility

photo: pri ED natáčaní

Bohuslav Beňo was born on the 2nd of January in 1951, he comes from the municipality Male Zlievce. His father worked as a teacher, his mother took care of their five children. In the 50s, he was a witness of coercion and persecution of his family in connection with collectivization. In the period of invasion of of The Warsaw Pact armies into Czechoslovakia, he was a student of highschool in Lucenec and joined the protest actions organized by his classmates. This later resulted in interrogations. He completed studies at the The Faculty of Law at Comenius University in Bratislava. In the following years, he had a chance to visit foreing countries despite normalisation as a boat economist at Dunajplavba. He was a dissident and opponent of communism, keeping in touch with the Prague dissent through Gustav Dobrovodsky. In 1989, he joined the revolutionary movement as a representative of Velky Krtis, where he originally founded Obcianske Forum (OF) (Citizen’s Forum) , which was later (in 1990) transformed to Verejnost proti nasiliu (Public against Violence- VPN). He ran for the party in the first free elections in 1990. In the following years after dissolution of VPN, he remained a member of Democratic party and opponent of politics of Vladimir Meciar. Currently, he sees a great promise of hope for social change in young people unaffected by the past.