25th anniversary of Charter 77 celebrated at Senate
In light of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto, a ceremony was held at the Czech Senate on Tuesday. This year the main focus was not just the Charter's signatories but also their family members and people who played an important role in promoting what the Charter stood for. Dita Asiedu was at the Senate and brings back this report:
For the Chairman of the Senate, Petr Pithart, Tuesday's ceremony was a very emotional event. Charter 77 signatories who are now senior political figures used the evening to thank those who helped, but did not sign, the charter. People who helped to write up documents, transported material, typists, all came together to talk about the past, present and future:
"I feel amidst friends and relatives. The Charter 77 was extremely diverse as far as political views were concerned but in spite of this fact the cohesion of the charter was very strong and this feeling after twelve years after the revolution this atmosphere prevails until today. There are many of my political opponents here today but the dialogue with them is different than that with my other political opponents. It is hard to explain but it is a very strong feeling of closeness."
Although the evening celebrated Charter 77, the Czech President, Vaclav Havel - one of the Charter's most vocal and prominent signatories - felt it necessary to stress that it only played a small role in the country's history - a history that needed to be studied and analysed as a whole in order to be understood:
Senate Chairman, Petr Pithart, also said that he believed Czech people today should take a clear look at the past and come to terms with their history in order to be able to achieve the life that Charter 77 tried to promote.
"The agent of human rights is completed on paper but it is not easy to overcome fifty-five years of two totalitarian regimes so everything is right in our constitution, in our legal provisions but I think there is a lot to do here in the minds."