Prague Authorities Outlaw Protests On S26. / An Open Letter To Vaclav Havel.
Prague authorities have revoked permits for all street demonstrations on September 26th.
This obvious abuse of power probably won't stop the thousands of activists gearing up to disrupt the IMF/World Bank
meetings next week.
INPEG volunteer Martin Shaw says marches will continue as planned, despite the ban.
He advises activists planning to engage in civil disobedience to protect themselves by NOT carrying weapons, not being
drunk, and forming affinity groups.
Shaw says INPEG is also going to fight the rule in court.
Activists from around the globe can also help out by signing the open protest letter to Czech President Vaclav Havel
(once political prisoner himself), and by faxing it to his office and/or sending email.
The English version of the letter reads as follows:
Open Letter to Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
Dear Mr President!
Stop the new Normalisation*!
Defend the Right To Protest
In November 1989, we won some fundamental democratic rights, including the right to free assembly and free expression of
With the fall of the Iron Curtain, we won the freedom to travel.
With the birth of the Czech Republic in 1993, the list of fundamental rights and freedoms became part of the
constitution of the Czech Republic.
As in the 1970s and 1980s, our rights are formally guaranteed -- however, in practice they are trampled on because they
depend on the benevolence of bureaucrats.
The local authorities of the Prague districts 2 and 4 have taken the decision to ban all protest marches against the
policies of the IMF and the World Bank on the 26th September 2000.
The reasons given for the ban were bureaucratic technicalities such as "it will limit the traffic flow," which in our
opinion is not a just reason to deny us our fundamental, constitutionally guaranteed rights.
At the same time we are disturbed by a so far one-off incident on the 13th September 2000, when one American and three
Dutch opponents of globalisation were turned away at the Hrensko border point because "they had anarchist flags and
stickers on the car" (Immigration officer, daily paper MF Dnes 14/9/00).
We, the undersigned, demand that our fundamental civil rights and freedoms are respected.
We urge You that everyone who wants to cross the border and express their protest against the IMF and World Bank Meeting
in Prague should be allowed to do so.
We demand hereby clearly the immediate revocation of the ban on marches.
(*After the defeat of the 1968 movement in Czechoslovakia, the government embarked on the policy of "Normalisation,"
bringing things back to normal, i.e. under their tight control.)