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Prague dedicates a festival to Vaclav Havel

Vaclav Havel (picture from Wikipedia)

Vaclav Havel (picture from Wikipedia)

The author of The power of the powerless will be remembered between 5 September and 19 november in a wide array of events in the whole centre of the Czech capital. This festival, curated by the Czech diplomacy, will open on Sept, 5 with the screening of the documentary Citizen Havel goes on Vacation, which deals with the arrest of Vaclav Havel after a journey throughout the Czech Republic he undertook in 1985 when he had already become one of the prominent dissidents, arrest which was carried out by 300 policemen in plain clothes. 

Festival events include old movies and interviews with Vaclav Havel, to whom Milan dedicated a tree in the Garden of the Righteous Worldwide on 6 March 2013. There will be discussions, listening sessions to the music of the Plastic People whose arrest started the Charter 77 movement  and many other cultural and artistic events. 

On 19 November the festival will close with the staging of Havel’s theatrical show Protest, directed by Gail Humphries Mardirosian, which shows the universal value of dissent through the stories of a man coming back from prison and starting an anti-governmental protest, Stanek, the friend who listens to him, Vanek, and two female counterparts. Following is the interview that Gariwo realized with Havel’s brother, Ivan, on the first European day of the Righteous on 6 marzo 2013. 

5 September 2013

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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.


The power of the powerless

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

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Ottilia Solt

educator and underground journalist who fought for the rights of the poor in Hungary