Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Farewell to Bärbel Bohley

death of a voice of freedom in the GDR

The German dissident Bärbel Bohley, a founder of the "New forum" opposition party which forced the Eastern German Communist Party to hold free elections and helped pull down the Berlin Wall in 1989, died at age 65.

In 1990 Ms. Bohley occupied the premises of the Stasi to obtain the disclosure of its archives and she promoted the document Instigation to peace, the first pacifist call subscribed by Eastern and Western intellectuals together.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in Eastern Germany, remembers her as "a personality who made possible the peaceful revolution and the road to German unity".


watch her obituary in Euronews

13 September 2010

Eastern Europe dissent

the truth against the lies of totalitarianism

The so called dissent in Eastern European communist regimes cannot be downplayed to a simple connotation of "opposition" as its definition would suggest, but must be viewed above all as the attempt to build a parallel polis based on every citizen's responsibility and aimed at occupying the spaces of cultural, social and human freedom wrought from the totalitarian regime into the social fabric.  The members of Charter 77 in Czechoslovakya and Solidarnosc in Poland, like Vaclav Havel, Radim Palous, Jacek Kuron, Adam Michnik, have always underlined that "the power of the powerless" consists in defeating fear through the strength created by coilectively assuming one's responsibilities, as proven by the exhortation to "live the truth" in a society based on lie. Their "dissent" has very often consisted in calling for the enforcement of the laws, such as the one about freedom of conscience, and the international accords subscribed by their countries, such as the Helsinki Accords
These stances have given rise to a broad movement which was able to condition the behaviour and mentality of the public opinion, up to the point in which - except in Romania - the totalitarian system was overturned in a peaceful way, without shedding blood, by a new leading class recognized by the majority of the population which is ready to take up the responsibility for public affairs.

Insight

The power of the powerless

Not only dissent - the "parallel polis" in Eastern Europe

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Lech Walesa

Polish trade unionist who spearheaded the Opposition forces against the communist regime