For reform-minded Czechs the only clear path leads out of the country
Ivan Kyncl is a young Czechoslovak photographer who is seeking permission to emigrate to Western Europe, He does not really wish to go. But he feels he doesn't have much choice. He is not permitted to practice his chosen profession in his native land.
His troubles trace back to the "Prague spring" of 1968, when IVan was only 15 . His father, Karel, a prominent journalist, was a member of the Prague Communist Party central Committee, a key power group behind Alexander Dubcek's reform program.
The next year, shortly after Mr. Dubcek was dismissed and just before the Prague committee itself was broken up, Mr. Kyncl spoke out against the purge and the Soviet- dictated "normalization" policies adopted under Mr. Dubcek's successor, Gustav Husak.
Since then Mr. Kyncl has been barred from journalism. Like many other purged Czech writers, journalists, academics, and artists, he has been forced to take a menial job. He faced repeated police and other official harassment.
Son Ivan's sole political "offense" has been signature of the three-year-old Charter 77 declaration on the Husak regime's disregard of the 1975 Helsinki agreement on human rights.
He says his real "guilt" is being the son of one of the courageous few who refused to approve the Soviet Union's intervention and a treaty on its continued military presence in Czechoslovakia.
Here's how Ivan explained to friends in Switzerland and Britain his reluctant decision to emigrate:
"Since the invasion," he says, "I have been a second- or third-class citizen."
Denied entry to high school, he apprenticed himself to a photographer. "I worked as night watchman after dark and made as many photographs as possible by day."
For eight years, he tried to work on his own. Some of his photos have been exhibited in the US, Switzerland, and here in Vienna. But no one dared use or show the pictures in his own country.
"I was frequently followed by the secret police, I was picked up and interrogated. . . .
"Nov. 2 last year, the police came to my workroom. They took my archives of negatives, all my work, the entire fruit of my professional life."
The homes of 11 friends were searched at the same time. All 11 were arrested. The police later confessed that their sole basis was an anonymous letter purpoetedly threatening President Husak at the time of the October trial and sentencing of dramatist Vaclav Havel and other Charter 77 activists.
Earlier, Ivan had asked to go abroad to study. He was told: "Only if you emigrate permanently."
After the November incident, he said he was ready to go and asked for his photo archives. The police told him, "We'll kick you out without it." Then he was driven 15 miles out of Prague and left at 2 a.m. to walk home.
Ivan Kyncl is not the only recent case of a person being judged for what his father did in 1968.
Seventeen-year-old Lukas Tomin is the son of Czech philosopher Julius Tomin. Denied a public teaching post, the elder Tomin has organized private seminars for students otherwise barred from higher education.
Police have broken up several recent lectures and detained, then deported, lecturers who had come from Western universities. Dr. Tomin has been detained several times.
Lukas was refused university admission despite passing the entry exams. Despairing, he looked for a job. In the Sunday Times of London april 6 he told how he had just been dismissed from a postal dispatch office, after only a few days on the job, for refusing to fill in a questionnaire about his parents' attitudes and activities during the "Prague spring."