Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Toronto

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Address of the Consul General on November 17

Address of Mr. Vladimír Ruml, Consul General of the Czech Republic in Canada, on the Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy (Velvet Revolution)

The 17th day of November marks the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day in the history of the Czech Republic. On that day in 1989, on Narodni Street in Prague the communist police brutally suppressed a peaceful anti-government demonstration of thousands of high school and university students who demonstrated the desire of Czech people for freedom and democracy. 

Many realized that the communist regime went too far and from chanting "Bijou naše děti (They‘re beating our children!) " became a massive outpour of defiance against  the illegitimate red dictatorship while events took a dramatic turn as the protests gathered momentum.

Students were joined by the dissidents of the Charter 77, Democratic initiative, many actors and gradually all sectors of society, including laborers and farmers. Movements such as Civic Forum in Bohemia and Moravia and Public Against Violence in Slovakia were quickly established. These mass movements assumed control at all levels in the communist-dominated state.

Shortly after those events, the leader of Civic Forum Vaclav Havel, was elected president and in June 1990, the first free elections to the federal and national parliaments were held. There was a change of social system, change that took us to the implementation of freedom and democracy.

Since then 23 long years have passed, but there is still a long way ahead of us ...