Now that lockdown measures have been relaxed, protests are returning but under strict hygiene rules. The civic association Masaryk will stage one of the first post-lockdown protests on June 2 at 5 to 7 pm in front of Prague Castle at Hradčanské náměstí next to the statue First Republic President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. The event is called Defend Democracy, with the subtitle Say No to Traitors.
Rules currently allow gatherings of up to 300 people. To accommodate this, demonstration will be divided into sectors of 300 people separated by a security corridor. Two sectors are planned. Participants should keep a distance of at least two meters from others. Organizers are also asking people to wear a face covering.
The reason for the event is what the association calls the growing distance on the part of the state from the ideals of November 1989. The same association held two rallies last year in support of a Senate proposal for a constitutional action against the president.
They state that the rally is not organized in cooperation with any political parties or other associations, and that anyone who shares the values of Masaryk and November 1989 is welcome.
“What is growing here month by month is a system in which the country is ruled by an autocrat supported by the capital of giant companies, not unlike Mussolini’s fascism in pre-war Italy. … What is remarkable about the current situation in the Czech Republic is how well the communists understand billionaires,” the Facebook page for the event states, adding that some particular politicians are “connected by an umbilical cord to an aggressive power.”
They state that the situation has progressed quite far, but people still need to stand up. “We should all consider efforts to save democracy and communicate with our fellow citizens as our daily duty. And … let’s not close our eyes to reality, let’s not be afraid to name [the problem]. Sure, it’s not nice to admit how far we’ve come. But a problem we don’t even name cannot be solved,” they added.
One of the event organizers, Fedor Bruoth, told news server Echo24 that people should be aware of the growing influence of Russia on Czech affairs, and that the politicians who are allowing this to happen should he held responsible.
The initiative also wants to draw attention to the dissemination of pro-Russian disinformation and politics. They are also concerned about changes to the composition of the Czech Television Council, which oversees public broadcasting.
Confirmed speakers so far include director and documentary filmmaker Martin Vadas, civic activist Ivana Mádrová, Senator Václav Láska (Independent), co-founder of Společně Brno Hana Strašáková and Member of European Parliament Pavel Svoboda (KDU-ČSL).
This is not the only protest that is planned after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions. On June 9 at 6 pm, the group Million Moments will meet at Old Town Square and march to the vicinity of the government offices at Klárov to protest how the government handled the coronavirus crisis. The group claims that that the government representatives put their own interests above the public interests.