The aftermath of the Velvet Revolution – was justice delivered?

Photo: Peter Turnley, public domain

The 1989 Velvet Revolution, ending over four decades of Communist one-party rule, spelled seismic change for Czech society. Words like restitution and lustration became common parlance in the early 1990s, as the transition to democracy was accompanied by a legal reckoning with the past. But how effectively was justice served in that period? How successful was the rehabilitation of political prisoners, many of whom had suffered greatly under the recently departed Communists?

One man who has studied these questions in great depth is Roman David, a Czech sociologist and expert on transitional justice based in Hong Kong. Indeed Mr. David, who was himself a 21-year-old student in 1989, carried out sociological surveys of both ex-political prisoners and former party members and collaborators for his book Communists and Their Victims: The Quest for Justice in the Czech Republic.

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Author: Ian Willoughby