Hundreds honor Charles University shooting victims with human chain in Prague

A memorial procession walked from the center of Prague to Jan Palach Square, joined by the dean of Charles University, in a show of unity amid the tragedy. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 05.01.2024 10:16:00 (updated on 05.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Hundreds of people formed a human chain around Charles University’s Faculty of Arts building at Prague’s Jan Palach Square Thursday afternoon to commemorate the innocent lives lost after the capital’s December shooting.

The "Transmission of Light" march, organized by the faculty’s student association, was part of a Month for the Faculty event and was jointly coordinated by Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda to honor the shooting victims.

A show of unity

According to Charles University rector Milena Králíčková, the commemorative event was a symbol of togetherness and remembrance. Students and members of the public met in front of the Karolinum building on Ovocný Trh at 1 p.m., then walked together towards Celetná Street on Old Town Square, reaching Kaprova Street (the location of the faculty building). 

At the corner of Kaprova and Valentinská streets, the front of the procession split into two parts to form a human chain, expressing unity and honoring the victims. Králíčková and faculty dean Eva Lehečková led the students, who carried a large lantern to the building. Participants then symbolically lit a fire in the square – it will burn for the whole of January.

Church bells across the capital also rang for 14 minutes – one minute for each victim – during the procession. Lehečková expressed her gratitude to the student association for organizing the event and highlighted the lessons learned from the tragedy. She stated: "The university is one community, and in this extraordinary moment, we are all coming together to find ways to restore our academic life, including in the main building on Jan Palach Square."

Collecting candles and creating a permanent exhibit

All candles, messages, and stuffed toys left outside the faculty building in the days after the shooting are set to be collected by student volunteers this morning. According to Helena Láznička of the Charles University rector’s communications department, the candles that cover the stairs of the building will remain in place for the time being.


Charles University wants to create a “permanent object,” or exhibition, out of some of the candles so that they become a reverent reminder of the shooting and its victims. How this will look is not yet decided.

Classes to resume, building to open

The faculty announced Thursday that it will start the summer semester on Feb. 19 as planned, with all classes taking place in all buildings, including the main building that the shooter accessed. However, the fourth floor will likely remain closed throughout the entire semester.

Lehečková also informed journalists that the faculty will be closed until at least the end of January due to the need for extensive building repairs. The event destroyed over 130 doors, contributing to the extended closure.

The shooting has brought the academic community, and public, closer – as highlighted by Thursday's event. As Lehečková stated: "The academic world may seem like a closed community, but in times of crisis, we are all there for each other."

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