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Opponents of Czech President reserve historically significant location to honor the democratic transition this November

18.5.2016 11:47
Czech President Miloš Zeman (second from right) with leaders of the Bloc against Islam singing the national anthem on 17 November 2015. (PHOTO:   ČT24)
Czech President Miloš Zeman (second from right) with leaders of the Bloc against Islam singing the national anthem on 17 November 2015. (PHOTO: ČT24)

There is great interest in holding public events in Prague this year on the 17 November state holiday. On the very first day that it was possible to announce such events, Prague City Hall has recorded an enormous number of them, according to spokesperson Vít Hofman.

For the much-discussed location of Albertov on that day, activist Jam Cemper is listed on the city's website as announcing an event that will, among other things, protest the policies of Czech President Zeman. Hofman said that even though Cemper's announcement seems to have been the first to reach the authorities, it might not actually have been the first once all of the announcements sent in various ways are assessed.

Albertov has traditionally been the location where university students commemorated the events of 17 November 1939 and 17 November 1989. Last year that changed when students were not permitted to access Albertov due to an assembly there by the Bloc against Islam, which President Zeman attended.

This year students announced their assembly at Albertov as early as possible. Barbora Stuhlová, Vice-Chair of the Student Council of the Council of Colleges and Universities, said that as a representative of the Student Council she personally announced an event for 17 November at Albertov at 12:01 AM yesterday.

While the students are interested just in Albertov and its immediate surroundings, there is generally enormous interest in holding events on 17 November throughout all of the Czech capital. "We already have an enormous number of announcements, certainly dozens right now. Of course, many of them will be duplicates, as they have been sent to us using various methods," Hofman said.

Prague City Hall will gradually assess the announcements and must wait to establish their final order until all of the announcements for that day have reached the authorities through all communication channels. "I am of the opinion that the order will not be absolutely clear until some time tomorrow," Hofman said yesterday.

After determining who the first announcer of an event was for a certain location, City Hall will do its best to negotiate an agreement between those announcing events at the same place and time. City officials may propose that some events take place elsewhere.

Should agreement not be reached between the conveners, the assembly that announced itself later will not be permitted to gather at that site at that time. Cemper, representing the Facebook initiative called "Against Hate Speech" (Proti projevům nenávisti), announced his group's event at Albertov on 17 November immediately after midnight yesterday.

"The aim is for there not to be any extremists there like Adam B. Bartoš or Martin Konvička," he told the Czech News Agency. His group wants to negotiate with the representatives of the students who were not allowed to access Albertov on 17 November last year.

"I will hold a round table discussion with the people who held the real 17 November event at Albertov last year, by which I mean the one that was held on 22 November," Cemper said. Five days after the official state holiday last year, thousands of students and other people visited Albertov for a "substitute" event to commemorate the events of 17 November 1939 and 1989.

Cemper also announced an event on Hradčanské náměstí, near Prague Castle, which is where the Office of the Czech President is located. He has also announced processions from Náměstí Míru (Square of Peace) and Národní třída (the location of police repression of the 1989 demonstrations) to Albertov and from Albertov to Prague Castle.  

brf, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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17 November, Aktivismus, demokracie, Demonstrace, Praha, Prezident, Zeman



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