Press Advisories

16. 11. 2009 14:34

17 November – Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy

17 November 2009 marks 20 years since the events that foreshadowed the end of four decades of totalitarianism and moved us markedly closer to democracy.

"Not only do we want to remember with reverence the tragic events of 1939, but we also want to actively stand up for the ideals of freedom and truth for which its participants gave their lives. Because these ideals are also under serious threat today, we do not want to be shamed by our university colleagues who courageously stood up for them 50 years ago."

(Text of a flier calling for participation in a memorial event on 17 November 1989)

It was university students who put history in motion on 17 November. Their march from Albertov to Národní třída, including the events preceding and following it, became a term in common usage. Against the background of the 50-year-old events which led to the death of Jan Opletal, and especially in a spirit recalling ideals of freedom and truth, loudly and successfully - albeit painfully due to security forces – they expressed their disagreement with the totalitarian regime. The students themselves may not have anticipated how many people would be swept up in their event and the huge importance their actions were to have for the entire society. Prague had seen other protests against the regime in 1989, but those after 17 November were the most important, and the term "Velvet Revolution" is used today to mark them because of their nonviolence.

Borders were still not open, nor had free elections been held by 17 November. Despite this, the day became a symbolic end to a monopolar vision of the world, and the start of a new, more joyful and freer country. A country where truth and love were to prevail.

The Prime Minister's Participation at the Celebrations:

On Tuesday 17 November, Czech Republic Prime Minister Jan Fischer will appear at "Out of the Fetters," a conference of presidents of parliaments of post-communist countries, which is being held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia. This international meeting of politicians is being held by the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic in the Waldstein Palace.

Later, in memory of the events of 17 November 1989, the Prime Minister will place flowers at the memorial panel on Národní třída (11:00) and at the memorial on Václavské náměstí (11:20).

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War, and in connection with the holding of the important international conference titled "DROPPING, MAINTAINING AND BREAKING THE IRON CURTAIN: The Cold War and East-Central Europe Twenty Years Later," Czech Republic Prime Minister Jan Fischer has decided to grant the Medal of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic to world-renowned scientists who have made meaningful contributions to the understanding of modern Czech (and Czechoslovak) history on the international scene. More on the conference here: http://icv.vlada.cz/cz/udalosti/konference/zelezna-opona-jeji-spousteni--strezeni-a-strzeni-63729/tmplid-560/

On 19 November at the Office of the Government, the opening of the exhibition and book launch for "Posters of the Velvet Revolution" will be held, which ties to the outdoor exhibition which has been open over the summer in the gardens of Straka's Academy. More information at: http://icv.vlada.cz/cz/tema/plakaty-sametove-revoluce-63974/tmplid-560/

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