Thank You, Now Leave!

A proclamation of former students on the tenth anniversary of November 17th 1989

Dear fellow citizens!

We met up yesterday, the evening before November 17th near Narodni trida, (National Boulevard), to celebrate the launch of a book One Hundred Student Revolutions. Today we drew up this proclamation, which we put before you with all urgency...

We are glad to be living in a country which is essentially free and democratic. We appreciate the changes and opportunities that the intervening ten years have brought us. But we are deeply disappointed and outraged by the way our present political representatives are discharging the responsibilities of power vested in them. The tenth anniversary of November 1989 finds us in the midst of the greatest marasmus - both political and moral.

We feel cheated. We are face to face with arrogant political power, incapable of agreeing on a functioning form of leadership for the country, blaming us, the public, for the way we voted.

By its actions, the present Government is grossly distorting and damaging our country's reputation abroad. Among our fellow citizens this evokes sadness and hopelessness, sealing us once again up in the so called inward emigration we recall from Communist times. We feel a deep empathy with this condition. We put the question to ourselves and to you: How has it come about that such people govern us?

We are still weighed down by the legacy of 40 years of Communism, but most of today's problems result from NEW ERRORS AND NEW MISDEEDS. For example, instead of co-operation between the state and the enterpreneurial middle class there is a battle being waged, infiltrated by mistrust, thievery, incompetence and corruption among state officials. Our politicians are acting as if oblivious of their responsibility, not only for how they discharge the responsibilities of power vested in them, but also for the moral tone of a society so evidently guided by the example of their actions and attitudes.

In the name of our generation and generations to come, we categorically cry out for a return to decency, morality, political propriety and human values, and ask the leading politicians of the main political parties to STEP DOWN in this country's interest. They are no longer able to help this country, no longer up to the challenges of a new unifying Europe, nor up to being reliable members of the NATO alliance so essential for our existence. They have outlived their era - and their inability to reach a consensus is proof enough.

We appeal to the grassroots members and secretariats of the main political parties to renew their fundamental democratic identity and find for themselves representatives who can address the dynamics of the third millennium. Our country stands before a historic opportunity to return to the fold of progressive European states. We have no other option, but to make it happen!

We want to be once again a normal country, where decency and compliance with the law is matter-of-fact for ordinary people and political leaders alike. The present situation is sapping the enormous strength and creativity of our people, which we believe is there and which November 1989 showed to be there. Our current politicians are no longer able to deploy this force, but instead feel themselves threatened by it.

Ours is a society rooted in Masaryk and Capek - and to an extent Franz Kafka. But we are not and will not be a society identified with the present tier of selfish and narrow-minded politicians, whose arrogance and deafness only bring damage to our country.

Fellow citizens. We appeal to decency and propriety. We believe that the atmosphere which has taken hold of this land is not native to us, but emanates from the arrogance, cynicism and bloated self-interest of the majority of our present political leaders. A fair number of the politicians in our country have, by their behaviour, all but reached the standards of our former Communist rulers! Once again we are in the situation where we must come out of our shells of dubiousness and anxiety and join hands. That is our Challenge. A Challenge carrying within it the Hope that we still are a strong civil society, wherein lies dormant and unsuspected the fortitude capable of taking on that which is smothering it.

There are two prerequisites for the moral and spiritual revival of our society: everyone's vow of personal decency and the departure of profaned politicians, worn out by the last ten years, whose behaviour has changed out of recognition.

We greet you and thank you, for being. We are not ashamed to stand up for the ideals and joy which almost all of us lived through ten years ago, and we will do everything to ensure that in the next elections we do not freely elect a new road to communism.

Prague 17. Nov. 1999, 16:30
Signed: (alphabetically)
Josef Broz
Igor Chaun
Vlastimil Jezek
Martin Mejstrík
Simon Panek
Vrata Rehak

You are free to add your token of support

[Translated by Vaclav Pinkava from the Czech original: Dekujeme, odejdete!]

Central Europe Review's three commentaries on this theme for 6 December 1999:
Jan Culik
Kazi Stastna
Andrew Stroehlein