Wednesday, August 21, 2019

50th Anniversary of Protests

21.8.1969 Brno
©Moravské zemské muzeum Brno
Today is the 50th anniversary of when Czechoslovak forces fired on their own citizens.  Following the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia which ended the Prague Spring, was a period of time called "normalisation" which basically meant an end to Alexander Dubček's liberal reforms and a new hard-line communist government.

There were protests a year later across the country against the government and the Soviet occupation forces.  The government used security forces against the demonstrators.  This included the People's Militia which was the communist party's own armed forced made up of ordinary people dedicated to the communist regime.

About 2.500 protestors were arrested and five people were shot and killed, three in Prague and two in Brno.  No one was ever punished for the killings.  Czechs aren't fond of the 1968 Soviet Invasion but many feel that 1969 was worse because this time people weren't killed by invading armies but by their own people.

On 22 August 1969, the Federal Assembly passed legal measure n.99 to consolidate public order.  The "baton law" was used to suppress dissent against the government.  If you said or did anything against the communist order that you could be fired or expelled from university.  And by anything they meant anything.  Any form of art, song lyrics, a poem, or even a joke that went against the state would result in punishment.  The police could now detain people for up to three weeks instead of just 48 hours, and the trial process  It also expedited interrogations and the shorted the trial process.  In December 1969 it was implemented into the Czechoslovak criminal law and the labour code.

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