Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted

The protestors who signed the Charter 77 were officially known as the signatories of the charter. There was lot of secrecy centered on this signing because it was believed by many that this would not only lead to imprisonment but various other forms of harassing the attire family of the accused. Therefore, in order to protect the rights of the protestors and signatories, this particular committee to defend the unjustly prosecuted, was formed in 1978.

Facing the Ire…

Many of the brave protestors had to face challenges, while others braved the onslaught of spies to remain undercover. Yet there was a small fraction that claimed upon arrest that they had no idea what they were up for, at the time of signing the charter. That they were told lies and believed they were working towards the country’s growth instead. This would seem to be cowardly on their part now, but given the inhuman nature with which the state dealt with them, there was really no other option to save one’s life and the safety of one’s family.

The Infamous Czech Secret Police

The prime purpose of this institution of plain-clothed secret police and spies being recruited, was for the purpose of identifying and weeding out protestors in a very discrete manner. This was formally proclaimed in the name of countering ‘Western influences’ or ‘Anti-Socialist’ movements of any kind, but was in fact an organization that kept all kinds of dissent at bay, and sped over the common citizens of Czechoslovakia for over 4 decades. Despite the infamous Czech Secret Police, the charter was signed by over a 1000 people and the members played key role whilst ushering in the Velvet Revolution. In 1992, the Charter was dissolved because the signees mostly had no prior political experience and could not continue to play any relevant role in the newly formed government.

When Power changed hands…

One of the many reasons why the power transition in Czechoslovakia happened so smoothly was because those who signed, ratified and informally distributed parts of this charter were people from various other walks of life, apart from politics. So they never harbored any major political ambitions, and only a handful could exchange hands in terms of political power. So this did not happen as a sudden upsurge or bloody revolution, but took place in short stages over the course of 4 to 5 years. This time period and the involvement of folks from all strata of society are what allowed the Charter to be successful as power changed hands.