János Kokes

* 1952  

  • „With my colleagues, a Yugoslavian and a Bulgarian reporter, we went to the city centre in the evening. We got past all the cordons with facultative checks of documents all the way in front of the building of the party central committee. It was said that Ceaușescu was inside. The surroundings was barricaded with tanks. When we were returning home after nine in the evening, a commanding officer ordered us to go away as there will be shooting. I went home to get my typewriter ready and call Prague to get ready too. I lived nearby and from my balcony on the third floor I saw a highly lit up space, much more intense than other times. Then all the lights shut down and a shooting with lighting bullets began. A terrible feeling. Massive screaming of people, a chaos began. I reported to go to the site and ran downstairs. There was much shooting. Cordons didn’t let us pass. Inside there were burning tanks and barricades. At the entrance to the metro, under the national theatre, there were the Securitate units hiding, which demonstrates were not aware of. Forty seven people were massacred there on a space of 200 x 200 metres. That is already a massacre! I met my study class mate, we wanted to get around it and get there from the other side, but we had no clue it was all sieged. Just a few steps from us a Securitate unit wearing helmets was destroying the window screens to make it look like the vandals did. When they noticed us, we ran away and hid in a tunnel. I don’t remember exactly where, just know we ran fast. They were showing us the people they shot, I was noting down the data from their id card, then I helped carrying a man from Ploješt. I talked to young boys from the Factory of August 23, that they barricaded them inside, both the afternoon and night shifts and did not let them go out. Later it was proved, that most people were not shot by snipers nor the cordon units, but from immediate distance. The secret police had their people amongst demonstrates. That had never happened anywhere.”

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    Dům národnostních menšin, 17.06.2016

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Instruction for cohabitation? Respect and tolerance

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János Kokes

János Kokes was born on 19 October, 1952 in the village of Horna Kralova, region Šaľa, in the Southern Slovakia as the first out of four children. His parents were of Hungarian nationality. After finishing elementary school in 1968 he studied technical secondary school in Komarno. During studies he began to get interested in politics and was successful with his journalist work. In 1972 he was offered studies in socialistic abroad just before graduation and due to his political activities also a membership in the communist party. He chose the university in Bukurest, where he began studying languages in autumn the same year. He accepted the membership and later, during his high school studies in 1975, also entered the party. Due to demanded Rumanian and Hungarian language knowledge he successfully got a job in foreign department of the Czechoslovak Press Office in Prague, where he started a permanent job in autumn 1977. Soon he was gathering his first practical experience at the representative site in Bucharest. Following was a year of an obligatory military service and three months intelligence praxis in Moscow. In 1980-1984 he worked as a CTK reporter in Bucharest, where he was reposted in 1988. In Bucharest he as the only Czech journalist experienced dramatic days in December 1989, which followed changes of former regime. After two years of reporting services in Bucharest and changes in the CTK he worked for various politicians and representatives of the Czech and Slovak Republic, for example Vaclav Havel or Vaclav Klaus. Currently he is employed at a Hungarian Press Agency MTI. He acts as a chief- editor of a magazine of national minorities the Prague Mirror. He published four books. He has two grown-up children and lives with his wife in Prague.