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Republic Café: Waiting for Palach

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 15, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

The personal sacrifice of Jan Palach in January 1969 became one of the most powerful symbols of resistance to the occupation of Czechoslovakia and the onset of normalisation. The annual honouring of his memory was therefore understood as a political act and in January 1989 it escalated into several days of protest that were the biggest expression of resistance to the totalitarian regime since the start of the 1970s. The demonstrations’ brutal quelling and police strikes led to further protests that foreshadowed the root and branch changes that followed 17 November 1989.

Last year also saw a major wave of civic defiance. Can today’s protests and demonstrations, and in particular the reasons behind them, be compared to what was referred to as Palach Week? How do Czech and Slovak society express their disagreement with the state of society now? What are today’s motivations and expectations? And what is the response of the governing political elite?

Guests: Daniel Kroupa, politician, philosopher and teacher; Šárka Kružíková, translator and activist, Proč – proto! initiative; Mikuláš Minář, co-founder of the Milion chvilek pro demokracii civic group; and Juraj Šeliga, co-founder of the initiative Za slušné Slovensko.

Actress and TV host Bára Štěpánová, one of the youngest signatories of Charter 77 and an active participant in Palach Week in 1989, will chair the discussion.


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