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Open letter to President Havel

Dear Pres. Havel,

Stop the New Normalization*, We Demand the Right to Protest

Open Letter to Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic

In November 1989, we won some fundamental democratic rights, including the right to free assembly and free expression of political opinions. 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 globalization 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. This means that everyone who wants to cross the border and protest against the IMF and World Bank Meeting in Prague should be allowed to do so. We also demand the immediate revocation of the ban on marches.

(*After the defeat of the 1968 movement in Czechoslovakia, the government embarked on the policy of "Normalization," bringing things back to normal, i.e. under their tight control.)

Please fax this letter with signatures to:

Office of the President of the Czech Republic: 00420/2/24371111
Ministry of the Interior: 0042/2/61433560 or 0042/2/61433555
Ministry of Foreign Affaires: 0042/2/24182041
Please send copies to the organizers: or fax 0042/2/6970395