After more than five years, organizers of a peaceful human rights rally in Hradčany Square have finally obtained justice. Today, the Municipal Court in Prague ruled that the police action that prevented the rally from taking place was unlawful. In the reasons for its ruling, the court concluded that traffic restrictions are not sufficient grounds for curtailing people’s constitutional rights.
The peaceful rally in defence of democracy and human rights in Czech Republic, China, Tibet and Taiwan, organized on the occasion of the Chinese President’s visit, was called by Kateřina Kudláčková, Martin Bursík, Kateřina Bursíková Jacques, and Tomáš Pikola for 29 March 2016 at Hradčany Square. The gathering was duly announced within the statutory deadline and no objection was raised by the authorities. On the day of the rally, however, police closed Hradčany Square for the public.
“We intentionally called the gathering for a time when the Chinese delegation would not be present at the Prague Castle. Our aim was to peacefully voice our disagreement with China’s human rights policy, not to provoke conflict or endanger anyone,” explained Tomáš Pikola.
Organizers of the rally took the matter to court. However, their lawsuit was initially unsuccessful. After that, the plaintiffs went through courts of all instances, including the Constitutional Court. Today, the Municipal Court in Prague finally ruled that the actions of the police and the Prague City Hall were unlawful.
“The decision was so unequivocal that I do not expect the opposing party to file a cassation appeal. At the same time, I hope that the public authorities have learned their lesson and such a thing will not happen again,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Pavel Uhl.
“Our only goal was to make sure that democratic procedures are maintained, and that the rule of law follows clearly defined rules. I am glad that the Czech Republic strives to function as an advanced, Western-style democracy, not a Chinese despotism. What happened in Prague during the Chinese President’s visit in 2016 was disgraceful and, as the court has made clear today, unlawful. The court’s decision sends an important message to all citizens who felt affronted at the time, and serves as a precedent for the future,” said Kateřina Bursíková Jacques.
“I welcome the court’s ruling. The state attempted to restrict citizens‘ rights on political orders. Had we not spoken up, it would have considerably weakened the state of our democracy,” added Martin Bursík, chairman of the Czechs Support Tibet association.
Tomáš Pikola
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