Czech Heroes

Vaclav

Following on from the discussion of Hilary Clinton’s famous meeting over absinth – did she take a sip? – at Cafe Slavia with President Vaclav Havel, I noticed today the article that follows. It is as well to remember Charter 77 and their legacy, the liberal spirit of Czech society.

Prague, – The Charter 77 and its spirit can be a permanent inspiration, former president and dissident Vaclav Havel said at a public meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Czech Charter 77 human rights manifesto.

The meeting celebrated the legacy of Charter’s first spokesman, philosopher Jan Patocka, who died following an interrogation by the former communist state police (StB) that lasted many hours.

The meeting was held in Prague’s St Anna church that was filled to capacity.

Havel said that during his study visit to the USA he met people from the countries with both right-wing and left-wing regimes and although they adhered to different values they managed to tolerate each other and they all pointed to the ethos of Charter 77.

The Czech Republic should point to the abuse of human rights in other countries regardless of its particular economic interests, Havel said.

“I have a feeling that our foreign policy realises it,” he added.

Other well-known dissidents also spoke at the meeting. Bishop Vaclav Maly who “moderated the Velvet Revolution” in November 1989 pointed to the non-ideological vision of Charter 77 signatories.

Prime Minister and Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Mirek Topolanek paid tribute to the memory of philosopher Patocka by laying flowers on his tomb. He described Patochka as a man who, at the time of general moral relativism, declared a return to the values for which it is worthwhile even to die.“His political activities came from his interest in human rights that the communist regime suppressed,” Topolanek said.

Plastic People

Milan Hlavsa and Egon Bondy of The Plastic People

What about The Plastic People of the Universe, an avant-garde Czech rock band, and the formation of Charter 77? It was the arrest of these musicians by the Communist regime that prompted Vaclav Havel to write Charter 77. The Plastic People were heavily influenced by The Velvet Underground and most recently played in London. This performance followed a hiatus which was ended at former President Havel’s request to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Charter 77.

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