and its spokespersons
Charter 77 was the most signi cant opposition initiative in communist Czechoslovakia. Its purpose was to criticise the violation of human and civil rights which Czechoslovakia had undertak‐ en to observe by signing the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co‐operation in Europe in Helsinki in 1975. e text of the Charter was created in December 1976 and published on 6–7 January 1977 in several Western European papers. Charter 77 brought together people of di erent professions, political attitudes and religious beliefs. e penalties imposed on its signatories and on other critics of the regime led to the creation of the Committee for the De‐ fence of the Unjustly Prosecuted in April 1978, which tried to publish the fates of the people prosecuted for their political attitudes. As of January 1990, the Charter was signed by 1,883 people, and a total of 572 documents on vari‐ ous social problems were published. e Charter met with considerable response in Western Europe, and several initiatives were launched to support it.
In public, Charter 77 was represented by three spokespersons who acted on its behalf. In particular, they issued Charter documents and guaranteed the authenticity of the texts. As of November 1989, thirty-five different persons held this function, with nine other spokespersons serving after the collapse of the communist regime. Spokespersons were selected for one year to represent as wide range of the Charter signatories as possible, with di erent philosophical, political and social views.
The fates of the Charter spokespersons are varied. e exhibition features portraits of twelve of them. e documents and photographs used come from the materials of the State Security Service, i.e. the communist secret police. Most photographs were taken secretly.
The Charter spokespersons were under considerable pressure. Most of them were repeatedly detained and interrogated by the State Security Service, and many of them were imprisoned for their political activities. It often happened that two or all three spokespersons were in prison at the same time.