The Prague office of bnt attorneys in CEE decided to lend its support to a project by the Czech Bar Association who, along with the Czech public at large, commemorates the 30-year anniversary this year of the Velvet Revolution of 1989. "Lawyers Against Totality" seeks to reveal the fates and stories of courageous lawyers who unhesitatingly risked their careers (and not seldom their lives) in defending the rights of their clients in the face of a totalitarian regime.
The project, overseen by the Czech Bar Association (ČAK), comprises a historians' conference, slated for 5 November at the Grand Jury Room of the High Court in Prague, a multimedia exhibition, the launch of the website "Lawyers Against Totality", and the publication of a book of the same name. The latter represents the culmination of a long-term effort to collect the stories of lawyers who did not compromise on their professional and ethical principles even during the trying times of unfreedom. The opening event for the above-mentioned exhibition takes place on 5 November, at Kaňka Palais, i.e., the seat of the Czech Bar Association but also an important landmark of the revolutionary events of 1989. On occasion of Human Rights Day (10 December), ČAK will host a debate forum centered around human rights and freedoms in the 21st century.
"The topic is powerful and has retained its relevance for us to this day. Ethics, taking a personal stand, being engaged in civic matters – these things are important for legal professionals in every era," comments Tomáš Běhounek, partner at bnt, on the decision to support this project. "Today, more than half of our team is composed of colleagues who were born in the nineties or were still young children when the Velvet Revolution swept in. This is reason enough for us to commemorate the events of November 89 in a dignified and adequate manner also among our team," he adds.
The firm's own program builds upon the Bar Association's concept e.g. in the form of a project called "HEROES", developed in collaboration with Post Bellum. In a great gathering and a concomitant workshop, our employees will travel back in time to immerse into the actual events of the time and have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of real heroes, contemporary witnesses, and actors during key moments, finding out about their own capacity and willingness to make sacrifices for their ideals. They will get to experience the emotional burden of knowing that, in a totalitarian regime, one's decision may have fatal impact on the lives of dozens of others. In addition, several of our colleagues come from families who had to endure twisted fates because of the anti-totalitarian views of their members. During the said gathering, we also want to revisit and celebrate their deeds and their principles.
We have also organized a mini-exhibition, going by the title "89&WE", on the common premises of our Prague office, to put on display photographs and artifacts which our colleagues found in their domestic archives and family records and are related to them and 1989 or the November events. We intend to bring the string of commemorative events to a dignified close with a joint RUN&REMEMBER that revisits sites of note or of historical importance across revolutionary Prague at the time.
More information about the project "Lawyers Against Totality" can be found here.