Several events took place as part of Slovakia’s commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which, among other things, contributed to the fall of communism in Slovakia in 1989. In addition to the commemorative events, there were several protests whose participants voiced criticism of the current state of democracy in the country, the TASR newswire reported.
Foreign ambassadors in Slovakia laid wreaths at the Gate of Freedom memorial below the Devín Castle in a ceremony commemorating over 400 people who lost their lives while attempting to escape to freedom during communism prior to 1989. Part of the ceremony involved the unveiling of memorial plaques containing texts in four different languages, TASR wrote.
According to British Ambassador to Slovakia Susannah Montgomery, those who were shot dead at the border with Austria fought for the right to believe in simple dreams, the right to say and write whatever they thought without authorities knocking on their door, and ultimately attempted to set themselves free.
Czech Ambassador to Slovakia Jakub Karfík said that all those brave people – with their willpower and actions – slightly opened or at least shook “the rusty gate of freedom”.
Austrian Ambassador Josef Markus Wuketich noted that we must make sure that desire for freedom is never again threatened by punishments or death. The sacrifice of those who died in the fight for freedom deserves the highest respect, he added, as quoted by TASR.
Two think tanks, Fair-Play Alliance and Via Iuris, have awarded the people, for the fifth year in the row, for their brave actions that contributed to the advancement of society. The White Crow award was given to Simona Rudavská who cooperated with police in order to help them uncover the corruption at the Labour Ministry back in 2010, and to former police officer Jozef Žatko, who blew the whistle on the theft of unused fuel from vehicles used by the Office for the Protection of Constitutional Representatives two years ago. The late Marcel Strýko, a representative of the Košice underground and founder of the Civil Forum and Public Against Violence, received an award in memoriam, the Sme daily reported.
In addition to the commemorative events, hundreds of people gathered in some of Slovakia’s towns in protests called “November 17 – We Take Our Country Back”. The protesters voiced disappointment with the changes brought by the Velvet Revolution, claiming that it has been 23 years since people could express their will to live a better and more decent life.
“Instead, we have gotten 23 years of lies, plundering of property that belongs to us all, financial groups, oligarchy and rampant corruption,” said organisers of a rally in Banská Bystrica, as quoted by TASR.
“I, a free citizen, while expressing profound respect for our cultural and national heritage, I am declaring myself to be taking over the government ... I do not need any mediators to govern me, because, like every free citizen, I too have the right to be elected as well as immediately dismissed,” according to protesters at Bratislava’s Námestie Slobody.
Protests also took place in Poprad, Košice, Prešov and Nitra. No incidents were reported, TASR wrote.
Source: TASR, Sme
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
19. Nov 2012 at 14:00