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Thousands commemorate 17 November anniversary on significant street in the Czech capital

18.11.2016 15:38
People traditionally light candles on 17 November at the memorial to the November events of 1989 on Národní třída in Prague, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  David Sedlecký, Wikimedia Commons)
People traditionally light candles on 17 November at the memorial to the November events of 1989 on Národní třída in Prague, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: David Sedlecký, Wikimedia Commons)

Thousands of people commemorated the anniversary of 17 November on Národní třída (National Avenue) in Prague yesterday. University students organized an event called the "National Parade" (Korzo Národní) where people could amuse themselves and also learn about the events of November 1989.

At approximately 14:00 the parade arrived at Národní třída from the Albertov university area, led by Charles University Rector Tomáš Zima. The Pralinka Wind Orchestra then performed the national anthem in front of the memorial plaque to 17 November 1989 on Národní třída.

The event, subtitled "Thanks For Making This Possible!" (Díky, že můžem!), included concerts and theatrical performances for adults and children. Information panels located along Národní třída familiarized people with the events of 17 November 1989, including the personal stories of several who participated.

A tram car parked in front of the National Theater also served as an "outdoor school" where an historian from the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes lectured on recent history. No cars were allowed to drive down Národní třída and trams were re-routed, making it a space where pedestrians could discuss issues and tell each other their stories.

An enormous blackboard was erected where people could write messages. There were no political speeches to be made from the podium on the program and people were asked not to bring any banners to demonstrate a political position, but that did not stop some demonstrators from carrying flags that were essentially a silkscreen of the flag of China over the flag of the Czech Republic, a reference to recent conciliatory gestures made by Czech representatives towards China that many were outraged by.

Organizers at both ends of Národní třída passed out the Czech tricolor for people to wear on their lapels. Beneath the roof that covers the newly-named Václav Havel Square, formerly known as the piazzetta of the National Theater, a "happening" called "Václav Havel's Living Room" was held.

The space was filled with armchairs, books about Havel and by Havel, and occasional tables, as well as the kind of typewriters he once used that people could try out for themselves. Hundreds of people were on hand for the opening.

Those attending saw an opening scene depicting an intervention by members of the former Czechoslovak National Security Corps against dissidents. Havel's personal photographer, Tomki Němec, also launched a new book of photographs at the event.

"This is in memoriam, selected photos from 1989-2003, when the President left office," Němec said. People read aloud from Havel's works in the Living Room until 17:00.

Public figures such as Dan Bárta, Tomáš Halík, Monika Pajerová and Jan Ruml were involved in the readings. The cultural program on Národní třída lasted until evening.

ČTK, agw, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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17 November, demokracie, Demonstrace, Festival



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