PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia -- The remains of Jan Palach, who immolated himself to protest the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia 21 years ago, were reburied Thursday in a cemetery reserved for prominent Czechoslovaks.
It was the third resting spot for the man who in death became an inspiration in his nation.
Palach's ashes, in a gilded urn, were returned to Prague from his hometown and buried among the graves of prominent Czechoslovaks on the orders of the nearly year-old democratic government.
Palach, who was 21 and a history student at Prague University, set himself on fire in the center of Prague Jan. 16, 1969, to protest the military invasion by Warsaw Pact countries in August 1968 that crushed the Prague Spring reform movement.
Professor Jarmila Emmerova said a meeting of university staff and students held in an atmosphere of helplessness may have been 'the last straw' for Palach, who killed himself three days later.
Palach was buried in the Prague cemetery of Olsany, but people soon made his gravesite a symbol of their struggle against communism and authorities moved his remains to his hometown of Vsetaty.
Nonetheless, people still gathered where his grave used to be.
Each anniversary of Palach's death has been observed with a wreath- laying ceremony in St. Wenceslas Square, where he died, interrupted by police intervention and arrests.
Vaclav Havel, now the president of Czechoslovakia, was among those arrested in January 1989, just months before the Velvet Revolution that ousted communists from power.
A square in front of Prague University was named after Palach in January 1989. Previously it was called Red Army Soldiers' Square.
Two weeks ago, in a gesture reflecting the nation's political reforms, the remains of a few communists were removed from another Prague cemetery traditionally reserved for prominent people.