Vaclav Havel As a Human Rights Activist

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Submitted: May 29, 2017

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Submitted: May 29, 2017





Vaclav Havel As a Human Rights Activist 


Demetre Rukhadze







The Given Work is Assgined For the Class : VACLAV HAVEL: THEATRE POLITICS & DISSENT 

Anglo - American University , Spring 2017 ,LIT406/LIT506 Spring 2017

Research Paper



The essay is owned by the Anglo-American university

It is strictly forbidden to use and disseminate it for another purpose














Numerous features and facts justify forcefulness and efficaciousness of Vaclav Havel as a playwright, dissident, patriot political figure or even human rights activist. Thus, Historical facts lead us to deduce, we are facing individual, who altered the totalitarian regime and reinforced democratic values, in terms of molding Czech Republic as a robust, democratic and independent state. A large portion of Havel's works is considered absurdist dark comedies since they utilize bizarre and incredible components that offer expression to humankind's major fermentation in a foolish universe. This observation on the preposterous way of presence in the advanced world gives his works an all-inclusiveness that goes past his investigation of the Czech experience and conequently,  examines dissident's image at the international arena. During the periods of lack of sovereignty, he maintained the non-standard method of communication in order to reveal the communism’s cruel exterior. According to his activities and publications in Human rights field, dramatist’s merit is inestimable, escaping Czechoslovakian society from resistless despotism.  Politically activated creations of him gained popularity and dominantly, proved that due to toilsome endeavours, the inaccessible becomes accessible.


Power of the Powerless and  Human Rights

Vaclav Havel, so far just known as a dramatist whose plays can be seen in Paris and Vienna, London or New York is the creator of the fundamental exposition and writing, an intensive investigation of the power circumstance in post-1968 Czechoslovakia, denying the hypothesis that the nonconformists are completely detached in the country: they just have the dauntlessness to express what a large portion of the general population claim. The nodal feedback conceivable of this unprecedented accumulation of creations, established in Czechoslovakia and  initially disseminated in Samizdat shape, is that all commitments were composed in 1978 under the prompt effect of the administration's merciless activities against the establishers of Charter 77, that brave dissent against treachery and dictatorship ."The power of the Powerless" describes Central-Eastern European citizen's protest against the state and concretely against the communist totalitarian regime.  The given work can be seen as a key factor in terms of understanding Vaclav Havel’s figure as a human rights activist. The author outcries the system and expresses the dissident's strategy of acting. This astounding distribution is a noteworthy affirmation for attaining freedom. Essay justifies that the author is taking responsibility for presenting the truth in society and he fights for civil rights. To find out how he improves his image as a human rights activist, he starts describing the notion of dissident and how influential it is in terms of establishing the non-aligned and equitable society. The author takes a closer look at what is dissidents pivotal aim and which is the confronted side, that they have to fight against for. The papers give a unique and penetrating examination of totalitarianism, or what Havel calls post-totalitarianism, which is bound to renew the progressing discuss among Western political researchers with regards to the helpfulness of this term and the significance of belief system in these political frameworks. This perspective of totalitarianism is joined with an interesting hypothesis of how it could be successfully contradicted. The author develops the concept of people's position, duties and communication types to the government. To seek his development as an individual who cares about society and civil rights, we have to start our observation from the starting point of the essay. the beginning of the novel describes the regime and its features.The first major step he makes by providing an example of the greengrocer. It employs the essence of social terror and inactivity. acquiescent greengrocer delineates the general picture of Czechoslovakian Society. The writer presents robust arguments and reasons why residents have to live in a suppressed society. The sign in front of grocery says:

 “: I, the grocer X––, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace”. ( Vaclav Havel, Power of the Powerless P3)

  The Certain message is dedicated for the watchers or informers, who might inculpate grocery owner for encumbering the great state. Moreover, the individual response for the narrowed rights is not extraordinary, he or she boasts attitude of being responsible for the certain issue and follows the dictated stream.  Plainly, The problem fades in a way of governing country and ideology.


  He states that the Soviet government is an unusual and aberrant kind of dictatorship?. However, it's a tyranny not by a man, but rather by an organization and by specific standards. Given information implies: this is not the kind of fascism that can be undermined by assaults on a specific individual, there is minimal possibility for some option individual or gathering to end up noticeably sufficiently solid to oust the despot, as this assortment of tyrant isn't simply the kind of thing that loans to being toppled .He expects the contention that however, this ideology is overwhelming and not very many individuals truly trust its maxims. Moreover, he divulges the social problem about influential ideology. Therefore, both sides are responsible in case of ransoming enslaved and demoralized society. The author states:

" If ideology was originally a bridge between the system and the individual as an individual, then the moment he steps onto this bridge it becomes at the same time a bridge between the system and the individual as a component of the system" ( Vaclav Havel, Power of the Powerless , Part 5)

 The system presents suicidal weapon to lose your identity and additionally, to vanish your dignity, because it does not define any public interests and is intended to promote the outdated and wicked philosophy of ruling. The philosophy which carries poisonous mental impact. The idle awareness that citizen assimilates casualty and culprit of this ideological control, impacts him or her to relate to the philosophy and become part of the ruling methods. The existent problem occurs in an area where the controlling panel of ideology is located. The bureaucracy, saturated with harsh dogmas, leads the falsification to function. The author believes that even human rights violation comes from the head:

 “ Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing” ( Vaclav Havel, Power of the Powerless , Part 4)

As dualistic world requires to have topical falsehood and truthfulness, disobedient individual’s portray is clearly drawn. The main question that must be answered express: what if a citizen wants to raise his or her voice in terms of struggling against the system? As the system is defined above, it does not contain any fair civil right to be favored and consequently, being openly juxtaposed equals being hero and pathfinder. Thus, being hero implied being true patriot and fighter for a better tomorrow. The author states that someone, who protests fearlessly, has joined the game where fundamental ideas of the system are dominating. Fighting against unfairness provides a way to reveal a brutal picture of the brutal system. The author writes about a person who has naked the dictatorship:

 “ He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is, in fact, naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world. He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. “  ( Vaclav Havel, Power of the Powerless , Part6

  As he describes the atmosphere, he suggests the exact mechanism confronting the fabricated state. The plan is easily accessible and determines the essence of “living within the truth”, which generalizes wordsmith’s image as an unsophisticated civilian. Mandatory features fill the thorny path of being truth to the fullest. Firstly, “Hidden Sphere” which employs recognition of faithfulness in our souls. the second necessary trait spotlights an acknowledgment that the structure of society is the human being and the substance of the human being is a nobility that is inextinguishable and irreplaceable. Lastly and chiefly, the courageous boldness to protest dehumanizing system proves the supreme notion of a life devoted to the truth. What else should be included? Vaclav Havel launches the only power of the powerless civilian can exploit.






  Charter 77 and Human Rights  


  The charter 77 declaration, supported by the dissidents, intellectuals, and savvy individuals,  was a petition, demanding the Soviet government of Czechoslovakia to accept primary basis and rules of human rights. The declaration was carrying quintessence of human rights from its roots and it could not be surprising, that Vaclav Havel made initial prime progression as human rights protector. The historical background denotes primary groundwork of this declaration. In 1976, local psychedelic rock band, the Plastic People of the Universe, were captured and  Czech Communist government.  the regime arrested band for exasperating the peace. After the band imprisonment, a gathering of Czech public figures, authors, and artists, including Vaclav Havel, circled an appeal for the democratic Czech Republic, known as the Charter 77. The given manifest was not a formal political gathering, but rather worked as a support amass for human rights. The Czechoslovak government denounced the greater part of the underwriters of Charter 77, a few of whom were along these lines attempted and detained. In any case, Charter 77 can be viewed as the principal open activity of a recently emanant Czechoslovak protester development. It’s mandatory to highlight the details, which creators included in the text, in terms of seeking their image and figure as a protector of civil rights. Protestors started claiming the execution of 1960 Czech Constitution, final act of Helsinki accords and 1966 UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In 1975, the Czech government had marked the Helsinki Declaration, which included certifications of human rights and freedom of individuals. All the conclusive action was held by the Helsinki Conference, where certain documents revitalized and rectified. The Helsinki conference and its results are accessible to perceive Vaclav Havel and members of charter 77, individuals who changed the world. Despite the nodal aim of exonerating human rights, observation requires a closer look. Czech Helsinki Committee was serving its goals since 19898 to 1993.It was  The first non-governmental organization based on human rights protocol,  in the Czech Republic. The conclusive act of Helsinki Process, agreed by the member states, was the first official rapport indicating the essence of human rights veneration. Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe final act - The Decalogue’s ( Declaration on Principles Guiding Relations between the Participating States)  (Magi, 1977) .  It purpose encountered its goals and as a result, officials established 10 basic principles, where section six clearly states:

“Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief “  (Helsinki Conference ,1975, Section 6 )

 The charter 77 impacted on having mentioned principles and moreover, it enforced global partnership.  Vaclav Havel, as a vigorous activist for human rights and establisher of Charter 77, not only rescued Czech society but merely presented insurgents position at International Arena. Furthermore, Inception of human rights acts increasingly assisted the development of international organizations such as OSCE and Human Rights Watch  (Helsinki Watch, 1989). Stated facts divulge the influential impact of Czechoslovakian Affairs affected not only Central Europe, but deeply covered the democratic world.

 Continuance of the declaration shapes the major aspects of dissidents demands. The first palpable maneuver confirms Article 19. Authors are appealing discrimination of free expression right and marking a population of Czechoslovakia as victims of “virtual apartheid “.  The demurral act confronts its stoutness and justness if the reader is able to review the exact article from  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states:

 (Article 19, Section 1)

“ Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference “

Obviously, Article 19 demonstrated the survival guide for the citizens, who experienced “ Freedom from Fear”.  (United Nations, 1966 , Article 19 )

 Hence, According to the trial of the band Plastic People of the Universe, Establishers of the petition purposely mention the importance and content of Article 19, Section 2:

 “ Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”  (United Nations, 1966 , Article 19, Section 2 )


  The declaration outlines an essential basis for civil rights. Nonetheless, the text employs the defamation law. Similarly, the significance of the 19 clause occurs in the discussion of Article 17, while stating feebleness of  Czechoslovakians to discuss openly legal protection of "attacks on honor and reputation”. It is government the guilty side, which forces and bans citizens to debate flagrantly. The scrutiny includes the right of religious confession. The state does not respect religiosity and encumbers churchman to function adequately. As writers reckon, that the government has violated the international law.  The point 19 generalizes:

“ 1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.”  (United Nations, 1966 , Article 19 )

Elimination of the civil rights is caused be the system, where national institutions are influenced by the political directives. Politically motivated authorities are influencing interest groups, trade unions, factories, institutions and other substantial organizations. Individuals could not seek non-party citizens since they were disappeared by the regime. Protestors are claiming that peaceful gatherings and associations in order to enforce their ascendancy shall be acknowledged, without any restrictions and independently. The demand encounters its lawfulness while reviewing Article 21 and Article 22.

Article 21:

“ The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (order public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” (United Nations, 1966 , Article 21 )

Article 22 express:

„ 1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests. „  (United Nations, 1966 , Article 22 )

Above mentioned laws come to force when it matches equality in front of law and produces opportunity for everyone to join public affairs. Sources come from the Article 25 Part with cooperation of Article 26.

“ To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives” (United Nations, 1966 , Article 25 )

Article 26:

“the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, .colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”  (United Nations, 1966 , Article 26 )

It’s crucial to mention, that the whole proclamation provides a linked chain of understanding the seriousness of civil rights violation in Czechoslovakia. One of the nodal issue, corrupted and bribed judiciary, is discussed during the declaration. Political influence leads the legislative system and affects the media, in terms of spreading the information interpreted by the officials. Thus, protestor does not have any right to fight for the equity. Creators claim that the beginning of  Article 14 describes the solution sufficiently.

“ All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals “  (Nations, United, 1966, Article 14)

 As it was noticed in “Power of the powerless” the communist's system of governing equals empire standing on the morals of tyranny. The empire bounds itself abuts the limits and creates another planet, nobody could leave. In terms of leaving the borders of the “Great Empire,” individual should be preached as a traitor. The system which was the bringer of traitors and informers institution was also appealing it in a sense of intimidating the population.  Composers present the content of Clause 12, part 2, stating:

“Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own”  (United Nations, 1966 , Article 12, Section 2 )

 All the implications carrying Charter 77, approves the essential importance of human rights, which was the leading ideology for creating the petition.  Issues covered by the declaration refers to UN universal declaration of human rights. Moreover, a socio-political movement which started in 1977 and published the petition, introduced the same details which are foreseen according to the Universal declaration of human rights. As an example, the beginning of the manifesto originates the notability of article 13 which preserves the right of education. The diversity of opinions derives the democratic society, but eminently the murderous system takes it all. Thus,  adults are prevented getting an education, since the system leads the power. Additionally, the article 13 from matches  the article 26 mentioned in the United Nation’s memorandum, which divulges:

„ 1.Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.“  (United Nations, 1948,  Article 26)

Finally, charter 77 and its followers were invoked to commence socio-political reforms dedicated to the state and individual welfare, founded on the friendship and solidarity. As the final part of the document presents major purpose, protestors complaints to satisfy regulations amended by the international agreements manifests the fundamental demand:

“ to enable all citizens of Czechoslovakia to work and live as free human beings. “  (Vaclav Havel, 1977, P. 5)







  Undoubtedly, Vaclav Havel marked his name not only in the Czech Republic history, but obviously brought the vicious regime to the light. Hence, the development of civil and democratic society all around the world should be impacted by his indefatigable efforts to build autonomous and independent society.  A rallying point of communism showed the world a lesson, which will be heeded many times by the future generations. From his public activities during the Prague spring and Normalization to his presidency, he encountered difficulties, which were unpredictable to be surmounted. Deliberately, Vaclav Havel showcased the human being as a supreme power of the state and terminally, reached its conceived determinations. From today’s viewpoint, he achieved the mission what intended to accomplish.  As dissident finishes his new year address, He returned the governing power to the people and enable citizens to work and life without any restrictions, as the first president of Czech Republic provided the motive of charter 77.  Untiring Efforts deserved to be internationally recognized and as a matter of fact, annually The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) rewards nominees for the Vaclav Havel Human rights prize, which cooperation charter 77 foundation and presidential library of Vaclav Havel.  (Council Of Europe, 2017) To conclude, his adamant facade as a human rights activist lead us to investigate the history in terms of building better tomorrow. Conclusively, the human rights assiduous activist could be seen as a thinker who occupied a postmodern situation in case of presenting rational enlightenment  (Pirro, 2002, p.228-229) .



















Conference, Helsinki. (1975, August 1). Conference on security and co-operation in Europe final act. Retrieved from

Council Of Europe. (2017, January 16). Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2017. Retrieved January 16, 2017, from

Helsinki Watch . (1989). Human Rights in Czechoslovakia. Helsinki: Human Rights Watch.

Magi, A. (1977). Conference at Helsinki and its aftermath. Stockholm: Estonian Information Center .

Nations, United. (1966, December 19). International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Retrieved March 23, 1966, from

United Nations. (1948, December 10). Bookllet Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved 2015, from

Vaclav Havel, J. S. (1977). Charter 77 declaration. Prague.

Pirro, R. (2002). Václav Havel and the Political Uses of Tragedy. Political Theory, 30(2), 228-258. Retrieved from


Primary Sources:

Havel’s Power of the Powerless and Declaration of Charter 77












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