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Czechs mark Velvet Revolution by asking President to resign, neo-Nazis harass ROMEA

Prague, 17.11.2014 18:13, (ROMEA)
The ROMEA organization's stand on Národní třída on 17 November 2014. (PHOTO:  Zdeněk Ryšavý)
The ROMEA organization's stand on Národní třída on 17 November 2014. (PHOTO: Zdeněk Ryšavý)

People marked the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on Národní třída in Prague with a demonstration there this morning that was attended by thousands. Demonstrators protested against Czech President Miloš Zeman and called for him to resign.    

In the afternoon, performances of music and street theater began there that will last into the night. The event is a one-day festival called "Thanks that we can! - Národní Parade".

Hundreds of people are on the streets listening to bands on two stages (one called Love, the other Truth), viewing a photography exhibition near the National Theater, and stopping by an improvised radio station where young authors are reading their poetry. Since morning, Czechs have been remembering the events of November 1989 at the memorial to them on Národní třída.

People are bringing candles and flowers to the site of the police intervention against the 1989 student demonstrations there. Long lines are forming at the memorial and people are waiting their turn to pay their respects.

Cardinal Dominik Duka said mass this morning to a full house in the Church of St. Voršila (Ursula), where the Saint Wenceslas Chorale and others performed. Many people are wearing the Czech tricolor or buttons with portraits of the leader of the Velvet Revolution and the country's first post-1989 president, Václav Havel.

Nonprofit organizations involved with civil society, combating totalitarianism, social issues and youth have been given room to set up stands on Národní třída. The ROMEA organization also has a stand there.  

"We want to show people what our organization does, we will screen videos and those visiting our stand will be able to see part of the exhibition called 'Guess Who I Am?', which draws attention to the prejudicial, simplistic mindsets and stereotypes that determine the behavior and relationship of the Czech public toward Romani people, for example," said ROMEA's director, Zdeněk Ryšavý. This afternoon about 10 neo-Nazis led by Pavel Sládek Matějný gathered by the ROMEA organization's stand.  

The neo-Nazis made vulgar comments about the activities of the ROMEA organization and Sládek Matějný pushed a ROMEA TV cameraman who was filming him. Fortunately no other conflicts took place.

At 13:00 the Kladno-based band Zrní performed on the Love stage. On the main stage (called Truth) in front of the department store there will be a concert by the singer Lenka Dusilová and the Baromantika band, a solo performance by the composer and musician Jaromír 99, and a performance by the unique group Vložte kočku this evening.

"The street theater is basically happening all along Národní třída, but it is primarily concentrated around the National Theater, where there is an interesting black box, among other things. That's an installation space for a theatrical performance," Adéla Brabcová told the Czech News Agency on behalf of the street theater organizer.      

Many more events will take place on the street into the night. During the afternoon the traditional satirical parade called the "Velvet Feast" will march down Národní třída, and people can also join a walking tour led by architect Petr Kučera, express their opinions on a Wall of Thanks, or enter an improvised apartment to read samizdat literature and listen to punk bands.  

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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17 November, 1989, ROMEA, Shromažďování



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