The Revolutionary

By 1957, Vaclav Havel, then 21, had fulfilled his military service in the Czechoslovakian Army. From 1955, throughout the repressive communist reign, as citizen, author and playwright, he constantly protested against the Regime, targeting its agenda of normalization (which sought to undo all previous reforms), via innumerable letters, articles and plays. Some bold, some deceptively subtle or suggestive, every one of his works, in some way, sought fairness and basic human rights in Czechoslovakia, as well as the world in general. These, on many occasions, however, were banned explicitly by said government, and as a result, he himself was locked up for the expression of such pro-humanitarian and pro-democratic sentiments.

In the 1970's and 80's, for his outspoken self-expression against the government he was arrested time and again. In 1975, in an open letter to President Gustav Husak, he attempted to bring to light the social ills plaguing the country, for which he was arrested. In January of 1977, he helped produce, and sign, along with prominent figures such as Jiri Hajek and Kan Potocka, in addition to over a thousand common Czechoslovakian citizens, the anonymously authored document, Charter 77, which specifically named him as one of its spokespersons. On account of this, he was sent to prison yet again for months, then put under house arrest until 1979. In April of that year, he was sentenced to 4 and a half years of hard labor, and five additional years in prison, after co-founding the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted (VONS) in direct retaliation against the unjust discrimination, and harsh persecution of Charter 77 signers by the government. By 1989, Havel was a leader in the Civic Forum, a coalition of communist opposition groups. After getting out of jail after a nine month prison sentence in November of 1989, he delivered a speech from the balcony of the Melantrich publishing house in Vaclavsje Square in Prague, rallying over half a million people to continue demonstrations against the oppressive government.

Soon after, the movements of the Civic Forum (CF), and Slovak group PAV (Public Against Violence) gained momentum, culminating in the bloodless Velvet Revolution, which resulted in the ousting of the Communist Regime by the end of 1989. A newly drawn up constitution by December heralded the establishment of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republics. The elections at around the same time proclaimed the beginning of a free new era of order under the nonpartisan presidency of writer and humanist Vaclav Havel.