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Czech Presidency organized Human Rights Workshop with guest speaker Ms. Jana Hybášková

The second half of 2022 is the Czech Republic’s 2nd Presidency of the Council of the European Union since joining the EU in 2004. One of the priorities of the Czech Presidency programme is “resilience of democratic institutions: safeguarding values of democracy and rule of law, media freedom, transparency and open dialogue with citizens”.

In particular, 17 November is marked as the ‘Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day’ in the Czech Republic and at the same day we also commemorate the International Student Day. The two are in fact interconnected in Czech history.

The 20th century was a tumultuous time for Czechia and Slovakia that were parts of the same country, Czechoslovakia, until 1993. Czechoslovakia had to endure occupation by the Nazis during World War II and then communist rule until 1989. During both regimes, students led nationwide protests.

On 17 November 1939, Nazis stormed the University of Prague following demonstrations against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis. Nine student leaders were executed and over 1200 students were sent to concentration camps.

On 17 November 1989, a memorial march took place in Prague to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1939 student revolt. The authorities tried to suppress the march, which in turn sparked an avalanche of popular protests in Czech and Slovak cities. Over the following days, the protests grew into non-violent demonstrations at first involving students and later all citizens of Czechoslovakia.

On 10 December, the world celebrates the International Day of Human Rights. It marks the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On 10 December 1988, the French Embassy in Prague organised a working breakfast, on the occasion of the visit of the French president Mr. François Mitterand, with dissidents of the Czechoslovak communist regime, including their leader Mr. Václav Havel, who later became the first democratically elected Czech/Czechoslovak president. This event significantly contributed to the fall of the communist regime a year later and Czech people commemorate this event until now.

The Czech Presidency, together with other EU member states and like-minded countries, is committed to promoting and protecting fundamental rights and freedoms. These include for example transparent financing of political parties, media independence, freedom of expression and an open dialog with citizens. As Jordan embarks on the modernisation of its political system, the Czech Embassy in Amman decided to organise this event to strengthen its engagement with local civil society at this important juncture.