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Exhibition on Charter 77 dissident manifesto opens in Prague

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Prague, March 13 (CTK) – The exhibition Story of Charter 77 in the Salm Palace in Prague describing the fates of the first and longest lasting opposition movement in the former Eastern Bloc has opened on its 40th anniversary, Eugen and Zuzana Brikcius, who organised the exhibition, said.

It will last until January 19, 2019, they added.

The artefacts, written documents, samizdat literature and photographs of the Charter 77 members represent Charter 77 as a social and culture phenomenon.

The dissident manifesto was signed by 242 people by the end of 1976 and it was launched to the world on January 6, 1977. Its first spokespersons were the playwright and later Czech and Czechoslovak president, Vaclav Havel, former foreign minister Jiri Hajek and philosopher Jan Patocka.

The Charter 77 movement was opposed to the violation of human and civic rights in the country. By January 1990, Charter 77 was signed by over 1800 people.

The exhibition pays a great attention to the personality of poet and writer Ivan Martin Jirous (1944-2011), dubbed Magor (“Loony”).

The exhibition opens with a panel and documents from his wedding in 1976 and the painting Underground at Charles Bridge by Jan Safranek.

The Story of Charter 77 ends with Jirous’ being amnestied at the close of the Communist rule on November 26, 1989.

Jirous was sentenced to a prison term five times in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Using the story of the poet, art historian and patron of underground culture called Magor we want to show how Charter 77 started, operated and ended,” the organisers told journalists on Monday.

The exhibition also offers artefacts by Jiri Kolar, Otakar Slavik and Olga Karlikova.

Along with Jirous, there are also the stories of Havel, a leading personality of the Czechoslovak dissident movement, Patocka and Jaroslav Seifert (1901-1986), the only Czech Literature Nobel Prize laureate who also signed the manifesto.

There are photos depicting the atmosphere of the time and unofficial culture as well as those shot by the Communist secret service StB.

“The surveillance photos, too, have a documentary value,” historian Petr Blazek said.

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