“Those that say that individuals are not capable of changing anything are only looking for excuses.” ~ Václav Havel
In 1970, Havel was publicly condemned on television, radio, and newspapers. The regime confiscated his writings, tapped his phone lines, and harassed his friends. As a dissident, one of Havel's central principles was the appeal to the people to live in a state of inner freedom. He championed the ideals of a civil society and was one of the original creators and courageous signatories of the historically vital document Charter 77, which criticized the then communist Czechoslovak government in 1977 for failing to honor basic human rights. The charter was deemed illegal and a threat to the state. Its creation was inspired, in part, by the arrest of the members of the rock band Plastic People of the Universe (PPU), which voiced its dissenting views of the totalitarian regime. The band was heavily influenced by American song writer Frank Zappa. Many dissidents, including Havel, listened to smuggled in American music such as The Velvet Underground. Two decades later as President of a free country, Havel requested the band’s founding member to perform at a White House dinner hosted by President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Photo © Oldřich Škácha
1975 – Václav Havel writing an open letter to President Husák