Slovakia commemorates the Velvet Revolution and the National Day of the Fight for Freedom and Democracy

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This is one of the most important events in the modern history of our country. The violent crackdown on demonstrators in Prague on 17 November 1989 kicked off events that led to the fall of the Communist regime in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSR), which are referred to as the Velvet Revolution. Events were part of the then major geopolitical changes and opened the doors to Czechoslovakia to new possibilities and challenges. Since 2001, this day has been a public holiday. 

Our university also regularly commemorates these events as a celebration of freedom. Many of our colleagues were also involved in these historical events. 

The commemoration of the revolutionary period was briefly shared with us by FAFR Vice-dean for educational activities Ing. Ján Gažo, PhD., who was just at that time a student of the 2nd year of the phytotechnical department of our university.

Mr. Vice-Dean, why didn't these events leave you indifferent and what would you tell today’s students?

“By chance, on Friday 17 November 1989, we celebrated half of the university studies. But already during the weekend we learned on the news about the bloody intervention of Public Security against demonstrators  in Prague. In the following week, changes took place at our university, which were later called the Velvet Revolution. It started with spontaneous discussions in dormitories, followed by public protests, participation in the general strike and the occupation of university premises. Together, we prepared leaflets, distributed and glued them in the city center. Other groups of students attended discussions in businesses and schools in the Nitra region. We were supported by many of our teachers, as well as by unfamiliar people who helped us all the time. Those days meant an amazing touch of freedom for all of us and, for today’s time, an incredibly strong sense of mutual belonging and national pride that we had not known until then. Each of us proudly wore tricolor clothes as a symbol of the revolution. Suddenly we felt that although we are only students, we are the ones who, by their actions, form the future of this country.
Today, from time to time, I can judge that our decision to oppose the totalitarian government of one party and to fight for the ideals of democracy and freedom was very simple at that time. Today we are once again aware that the struggle for democratic principles and freedom has not ended on 17 November. The ideas and principles of the Velvet Revolution are once again threatened at this difficult time. Society is divided, the situation is greatly exacerbated by the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the solution to this difficult situation is in our hands. We must be able to respect what we have, to honour scientific knowledge and to patiently explain to our young people that freedom and achievements in terms of the values of democracy, humanism and tolerance that we have are not at all self-evident.” 

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