The Velvet Revolution – by Caleb

Well, it’s been a month since I got home and it’s time I stop hiding from doing a blog post.  So…

I went to the Czech Republic and while I was there absolutely everyone was talking about how they peacefully kicked out the Russian Communists in the 1980’s. Like most countries in Eastern Europe the Czech Republic ha been occupied by Russia after WW2, and like most countries they started to rebel in the late 1980’s. But the difference lies in how they did it. In the Czech Republic there was no rioting, firebombing, and gunfights with the police like in most other countries. Instead it took only 13 days of peaceful protests and strikes to bring down the communist government.

Starting on November 17, 1989 which was international students day (in honor of the Czech students killed by the Nazis in 1939), 15,000 students of the SSM (Socialist Union of Youth) attempted to stage a peaceful protest. When they got to the center of Prague the police cut off all of their escape routes and attacked the students with clubs and tear gas. Luckily no one was killed. But there was a student who had been knocked out by tear gas that the police took to an ambulance and everyone in the crowd thought that he had been killed. This false rumor was to be the driving force of the revolution.

The next day two students met with the Prime Minister/communist dictator and informed him that all schools and theaters were going on permeant strike

On November 19 the Prime Minister was presented with the demands of the students. Which were that he and the entire government step down and instate a democratic system. The Prime Minister rejected their demands and said that he would only be allowed by to step down (by the Russian government) if demonstrations reached the level of those that had happened in East Germany (250,000 people).

So, the next day 100,000 people marched into the square in Prague but this time the police did not use violence against the protesters. For the next five days the protests continued to grow in size until they peaked at 800,000 (the population of Prague was 1.2 million, so this was 66% of the total population.) on November 25.

Anti-Communist Demonstration in Prague.

Anti-Communist Demonstration in Wenceslas square Prague. I had to borrow this from google because this square is kind of empty In all of my pictures.

Finally on November 26, the Prime Minister agreed to meet with the leader of the of the uprising Václav Havel, but the talks led to nothing.

Prime Minister Adamec of the Czech Republic.

Prime Minister Adamec of the Czech Republic.

On the final day of the revolution, November 27, following a 2 hour general strike, the parliament struck down the part of the Czech constitution that made it a one party country. This was the end of the communist regime in the Czech Republic. In less than 2 weeks a president had been elected and a new democracy was born.






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