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International Samizdat Day declared in Prague

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Prague, Oct 12 (CTK) – Former representatives of the Czechoslovak samizdat declared International Samizdat Day for October 12 to commemorate its importance for the sake of survival of free culture in oppressive political conditions by yesterday, Jiri Gruntorad has told journalists.
The declaration was signed by over 20 of the dissidents in the Prague-based Libri prohibiti library.
The organisers would like to spread it to Poland and Russia within three weeks, Gruntorad, director of the library, said.
They want to highlight the International Samizdat Day every year because at present, too, people in many countries are struggling for human rights and free dissemination of ideas in oppressive regimes, Gruntorad said.
Samizdat is an affair about which many speak, but few have seen it, he added.
“Moreover, samizdat is not only for me, but also for all the present and scores of others a communication method. This means not only a book or magazine, but also video recordings,” Gruntorad said.
“All of this was of a tremendous importance at the time of oppression,” he added.
Gruntorad said if it had not been for samizdat, the Charter 77 dissident manifesto would not have been either and independent groups and thousands of books would not have appeared under the Communist regime.
“People would not have known what was going on. I think that we owe much to samizdat. This is naturally true not only of Czechs, but also of Slovaks, Poles and other nations that lived in oppression,” he added.
Samizdat still exists in undemocratic countries, also online.
The declaration was signed by many dissidents, such as former Slovak prime minister Jan Carnogursky, Czech diplomat Martin Palous, writer Lenka Prochazkova, writer Petr Placak and political writer Petruska Sustrova.
The declaration says authors, publishers and readers of samizdat publications worked selflessly and at the cost of their suffering they insisted on the ideas of freedom and human rights, Gruntorad said.
Books were confiscated from them and many were persecuted and imprisoned for a long time, he added.
Gruntorad said UNESCO and the Council of Europe would perhaps declare the International Samizdat Day, but the authors were not directly insisting on it now.
They want to spread the declaration to Poland and Russia through their past dissident contacts, he added.

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