Friday, February 3, 2017

Charter 77 Forty Years Later: How repressing a rock n roll band boomeranged into a movement that helped end communism in 1989

How jailing a rock band contributed to the end of communism

Václav Havel's signature card for Charter 77

The Plastic People of the Universe is a rock band that formed in communist Czechoslovakia in 1968, the year of the Prague Spring when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied the central European nation in opposition to "socialism with a human face."  Eight years later in 1976 this rock band was jailed for "disturbing the peace:" and it generated an unexpected reaction.

Communist repression boomeranged and 240 Czechoslovak intellectuals on January 6, 1977 gathered together in a movement that became known as Charter 77 to demand that the communist authorities follow their own laws and the Helsinki Agreement that they had just signed with the United States recognizing international human rights norms and protections.

On this fortieth anniversary of Charter 77 a long lost text of its founding and early years written by one of its original members,Václav Havel, has been found and will be released on this anniversary.

Charter 77 was founded forty years ago today on February 3, 1977 and twelve years later in 1989 played a crucial role in the end of communism in Czechoslovakia and the rise of the first post-communist president Václav Havel.

Today I will toast a beer in memory of the brave men and women who spent decades resisting communism and oversaw a successful and nonviolent democratic transition in 1989 that became known as the Velvet Revolution.

Charter 77 continues to advocate for hum an rights and democracy today around the world in places such as China.

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