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20. století

Charter 77

An informal public initiative, which grew into a manifesto
Info text

The Charter 77 was a public initiative in the former Czechoslovakia, which tried to defend human rights. Signatories of Charter 77 were strongly persecuted.
One of the drive behind the foundation of the Charter 77 was the arrest of members of the underground music band The Plastic People of the Universe. The text of the Charter 77 was written as early as in December 1976 and among its first signatories and authors were the philosopher Jan Patočka, the playwright and future President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel, or also the writer Pavel Kohout. The reaction of the "STB" (Czechoslovak Communist State Security) was very sharp and Václav Havel was arrested three days after the Charter 77 was published on January 01, 1977. Consequently, Jan Patočka was interrogated as well. Through made up masquerades, people connected to the Charter 77 were harshly persecuted or forced to cooperate with the STB. The same year, the so-called Anti-Charter was devised as an answer

to the Charter 77, and many individuals were forced to sign.
After the fall of the Communist regime, the Charter 77 was officially abolished in 1992. Its significance was certainly important even though it was not a popular success because the censorship of the STB was very good and ordinary people could get information only through the government controlled media.
Despite a small number of signatories compared to the rest of the population, the Charter 77 is today considered one of the most important actions against the Communist regime before November 1989, in the era of the so-called "Normalization" starting after 1968. However, the hopes of changes in a country under the control of the former Soviet Union were not fulfilled. On the other hand, the Polish resistance "Solidarność" (Solidarity), founded in 1981, soon became a mass movement effectively influencing the political scene in Poland and contributed to the fall of the Communist regime later in 1989.


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