Václav Havel – the subject of a commemorative conference at the National Endowment for Democracy today to mark his legacy – was born in Prague on this day eighty years ago, notes the New York Review of Books, which republishes one of his essays to mark the occasion:
Havel, the Czech playwright, was one of the three principal spokesmen for the Charter 77 group. Since the signing of the Charter he has been arrested three times. First imprisoned from January through May 1977, he was arrested a second time in October of that year and condemned to another fourteen months in jail, a sentence that was suspended. In January 1978, a ball given for Charter signers was raided by Prague police who beat up several people and made three arrests: Havel, Pavel Landovsky, and Jiroslav Kukal were charged with “creating a scandal”—a violation of the Paragraph 202 described by Havel in the following article written a few days before his arrest.