Firstly, there was a lot of secretiveness that had to be maintained about the charter. That is because the government had spies especially designated to find out about the various dissent routes. The charter had supporting documents that were written and designed to spread awareness amongst the citizens with regards to the unjust regime and the crimes on humanity that were becoming a norm in Czechoslovakia. Any attempt to distribute the documents of this charter, was considered as a very serious criminal offence, and people were handed over death penalties right away. In many cases, the families were also arrested and tortured but the fight for justice did not end, and went on to span over 2 decades.
The Velvet Revolution and its aftermath
One would assume that the end of any fascist regime would be marked with great deal of bloodshed and violence. But such was not the case with Communist Czechoslovakia. What the country witnessed was a Velvet Revolution, also worded as the Gentle Revolution, for its sheer negation of violence and the seamless transition of power.
Non-Violent, Yet Effective Protests
Experts have looked upon the historic Charter 77 as amongst the key unifying forces that led to the Velvet Revolution. Most other countries in the world where such kind of power transition has happened have witnessed unprecedented bloodshed and struggle. Ironically, this has been in the name of defending human rights and the Czechs certainly deserve all the credit for working it all out peacefully, without the loss of lives.
Very few examples of successful non-violent power transitions in history…
As observers of history, we see very few such non-violent struggles in the history of any country, be it to mark the end of colonial rule or to dismiss a fascist or communist government. While Gandhi has been hailed as the key historic figure who propounded the ideals of non-violence, the Indian liberation movement was far from being non-violent, given the bloody partition of the nation prior to liberation that led to millions of deaths in riots that were sparked off between warring communities. The pro-independence and pro-peace leaders led by Gandhi could not do much to stop this violence. Therefore the achievements of the Czech opposition and those who signed the Charter 77 certainly deserve much more than a part on their backs.