The Velvet Revolution (Czech Republic) or Gentle Revolution (Slovakia) was a non-violent transfer of power in Czechoslovakia that took place from November 17 to December 29, 1989. The masses of the opposition government demonstrated against the only Communist Party in Czechoslovakia. As a result, the 41-years of one-party rule in Czechoslovakia was ended, and the commanding economy was subsequently dismantled and transformed into a parliamentary republic[1]. On November 17, 1989, student protests swept the streets of Prague. Eight days after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the same wave of freedom that appeared to reach Berlin, the police tried to resist the protest. Hope to suppress the demand for freedom, but the people seem to be free from the cruelty of the regime. The display of strength only makes the resistance galvanized. In the coming days, students will join Czechoslovak citizens of all ages. By November 20, half a million Czechs and Slovaks packed the streets of Prague and occupied Wenceslas Square. The communists were expelled from the country. At the end of 1989, Czechoslovakia was on its way to becoming an elected president for the first time since 1948. Those events that changed the world at that time were called the "Velvet Revolution".[2]


The Velvet revolution although ended relatively quickly, it took decades to develop. Although many revolutions and protests in the past were unsuccessful, they paved the way for the success of the Velvet Revolution[3].

· The Failed "Prague Spring"

In January 1968, the Soviet Union handed over the leadership of Czechoslovakia to newcomer Alexander Dubcek. Dubcek fought the German army in World War II and joined the German Communist Party after the war. As part of a new generation of Slovak Communist Party members, working in Parliament and Parliament. Compared with his successor Stalinist Anthony Novotny, Dubcek was a liberal. Within a few months, he implemented government and economic reforms and granted citizens more freedom of speech, including freedom of the press. The people of Czechoslovakia embraced the changes and times of Dubcek’s liberalism. It is called the Prague Spring.

Like spring, it was fleeting. In August 1968, the Soviet Union had enough. The more liberal Czechoslovakia posed a threat to its regional power and would herald weakness on the world stage. More than half a million soldiers of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia. Soviet tanks rampaged through the narrow streets of Prague and suppressed the protests, which were mainly led by students. The loyal Soviet Gustav Husak replaced Dubcek and returned the country to an authoritarian communist regime, but the situation had changed.

· Jan Palach

In January of the following year, Jan Palach, a student at Charles University in Prague, signed a suicide agreement with several classmates who were determined to protest against the Soviet Union. In the farewell letter, he signed his name "Torch No. 1", which indicated greater self-sacrifice. Palach was in the hospital for three days after being burned 85% of his body. Surprisingly, he still managed to conduct an interview. He spoke in a low voice. When asked why he was doing what he was doing, his voice was rough and uncertain, Palach wanted to express his opposition to the Soviet invasion and "make people wake up". He died three days later.[4]


In the decades that followed, Czechoslovakia continued to rule by communism, and despite being forced underground, the resistance continued to grow. By 1989, all Warsaw Pact countries had had regular uprisings, the militarism of the Soviet government in the entire region had become increasingly rampant, and economic growth had slowed down.

The once happy Soviet no longer believed in the absolute correctness of its rule by the public. In January 1989, 20 years after the death of Jan Palach, the Soviets violated the promises of the Prague Spring and planned the so-called "Balach Week", an underground resistance movement formed. For the first time since Palach’s self-immolation, they gathered at Wenceslas Square, the former residence of Wenceslas, to hold a public commemorative event to protest the continued occupation by the Soviet Union. On the first night of that week, about 5,000 people came out, and have never thought of it since. After a year of violent protests and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the students again launched a protest this fall, choosing November 17, the 50th anniversary of the murder of Prague students[5].

The Directorate General of Translation of the European Parliament expressed the English as "Velvet Revolution", thanks to the Czech dissident Rita Klimova (Rita Klimova), that although the whole process cannot always be peaceful, yet the velvet revolution was in the absence of violence. Soldiers beat demonstrators, used water cannons in the crowd, and arrested many people. In 1968, when Soviet tanks entered his hometown of Prague, Havel was in Liberec on the outskirts of the capital. When the relentless 1989 protests began, Havel was an outstanding dissident and became the leader of the Civic Forum opposition movement coalition. When the government-controlled newspaper Rudé Právo tried to portray the imprisoned Havel as a symbol of the failure of the so-called freedom movement, it collapsed.

On November 28, after the workers protested and went on strike, the Communist Party announced that it would give up power. The parliament later deleted the one-party clause from the constitution. In December, Havel's name was appointed as the interim chairman of the forum. Two months later, in February 1990, Havel gave a speech at a joint meeting of the United States Congress, expressing doubts that he was even nominated, but at that time he still appeared in court as the President of Czechoslovakia[6]. After Havel resigned on July 20, 1992, there was no suitable candidate for the federal presidency. Czechoslovakia lacked a symbol of solidarity and a convincing defender. At least in political circles, it became easy to assume that the Czechoslovak state should be divided. There was little evidence that the public is enthusiastic about the division. The two countries conducted partition negotiations in an atmosphere of peace and cooperation. At the end of November, members of the National Assembly voted for the liquidation of Czechoslovakia. The two republics passed new constitutions. At midnight on December 31, 1992, Czechoslovakia formally dissolved after 74 years of coexistence, but it was only interrupted by the Second World War. With the end of this so-called “velvet divorce” on January 1, 1993, Slovakia and the Czech Republic established independent states[7].


Although it seems impossible to restore totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe after the revolution, extremism still exists. To commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, Prime Minister Angela Merkle warned against complacency. He said: ``The values ​​on which Europe is based-freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, human rights-are far from obvious. "Moreover, they must be revitalized and protected again and again. Czechs and Slovaks take to the streets again-no more threats[8].


The extent of the successes of the Czech Republic and Slovakia over the past 25 years should not be underestimated. Their integration into structures like NATO and the EU has been tough enough. As a result, these small export-oriented countries have to deal with both the credit crunch and the euro zone crisis. In many ways, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic appear to be in a better position than other EU Member States in responding to the challenges of the 21st century in Western Europe. Citizens value the freedom brought about by the fall of communism, enjoying open access to information, opportunities for expression and opportunities to work, study and travel abroad. This was impossible before the revolution, but if you ask about social worth and crime and employment your answers will be very different. CVVM / IVO research shows that Czechs, especially Slovaks, have little or no improvement in gender equality before the law, showing strong opposition to post-communist laws. This suggests a strong sense of disenchantment with the post-communist judicial and legal system.

Footnotes: [1] [2] Bradley, J. F. N. 1992. Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution: A Political Analysis. [3] Wolchik, Sharon L. “Czechoslovakia's ‘Velvet Revolution.’” 1990. Current History [4] Sebetsyen, Victor (2009). Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. New York City: Pantheon Books [5] Cipkowski, P. 1991. Revolution in Eastern Europe: Understanding the Collapse of Communism in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Soviet Union (Our Changing World). New York [6] [7] Shepherd, Robin H.E. (2000). Czechoslovakia" The Velvet Revolution and Beyond. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press [8] Stolarik, M. Mark (2017-01-31). The Czech and Slovak Republics: Twenty Years of Independence, 1993-2013. Central European University Press.