Velvet Revolution observed through culture as well as protests

Velvet Revolution observed through culture as well as protests

The drastic police crackdown on a student demonstration in Prague on 17 November 1989 led to the collapse of the communist system in Czechoslovakia. The student demonstration marked the 50th anniversary of a violently suppressed demonstration against the Nazi storming of Prague University in 1939. Half a century later, students were protesting against a different totalitarian regime. A prequel to the student protests in Prague took place on 16th November in Bratislava, when 250 students marched through the centre of the city, demanding not only reforms in education, but also the democratisation of society. While this unauthorised demonstration was without incident, the next day's authorised demonstration in Prague resulted in a violent crackdown, which led to mass demonstrations across the whole country. This non-violent change of regime became known as the Velvet Revolution. 17th November, officially called the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, is a public holiday both in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

On the revolution’s anniversary several public events are being held across Slovakia, including concerts as well as protests. Bratislava's Nová Cvernovka culture centre will host the so-called Concert for the Attentive on Wednesday 17 November. The anniversary of the Velvet Revolution will be commemorated by various musicians and artists from the Slovak scene as well as from abroad. The event will also include a screening of the documentary movie Komúna, which captures the environment of the Košice underground during the normalisation period and the activities of the secret service against people from this community.

Several anti-government and anti-pandemic protests are also scheduled for the Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Slovakia’s capital. The mayor of Bratislava's Old Town, Zuzana Aufrichtová, called on the organizers and participants of Wednesday's (17 November) rallies in the city centre to refrain from illegal actions and not to block traffic. The police are ready to maintain order at public events and the announced protests on that day. According to the interim president of the Police Corps, Stefan Hamran, if the public order is disturbed, the police will intervene uncompromisingly.

Zuzana Botiková; Photo: TASR

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