The Freedom Collection includes important documents and artifacts from major freedom movements, which will be displayed for public viewing at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and made available to researchers and scholars studying these movements. For information about the documentary archive, please contact us.
A renowned playwright and author, Vaclav Havel became a political activist and dissident in Communist Czechoslovakia. For his ongoing nonviolent resistance to the authoritarian state, Havel was frequently imprisoned. During his longest stay in prison, from May 1979 to February 1983, the collected letters Havel wrote to his wife Olga were published as a samizdat or underground book entitled Letters to Olga.
Havel’s letters were censored and were supposed to deal only with family concerns. But his letters dealt with a remarkable range of issues and ultimately on the nature of humanity itself.
This edition of Letters to Olga is an original samizdat version. The book was presented to the Freedom Collection by the Read More +
Oscar Elias Biscet is a physician and a prominent advocate for human rights and democracy in Cuba. Dr. Biscet was among 75 dissidents arrested during the Black Spring crackdown in 2003. In a summary judgment for crimes against state security, he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. While being held in solitary confinement in a tiny cell, Dr. Biscet created this message on a handkerchief, which was smuggled out of prison. The illustrations at the bottom of the handkerchief include a drawing of the Cuban flag, a reference to the Group of 75 political prisoners arrested in the crackdown, and an image of a noose crossed out to protest the death penalty.
He was released from prison in March 2011, after serving almost twelve years under harsh conditions. Dr. Biscet continues...Read More +
In 1977, a group of Czechoslovak dissidents drafted and published the Charter 77 manifesto, which called on the communist government to respect human rights. Charter 77 was inspired in part by the 1975 Helsinki Accords, an international treaty signed by the United States, Canada and most European countries. The Helsinki Accords committed governments to guaranteeing basic human rights, such as freedom of speech, conscience, and assembly. But in Czechoslovakia and other communist states, these rights were routinely denied.
“The freedoms and rights of the people guaranteed by these pacts are important factors of civilization for which, throughout history, many progressive forces have been striving and their enactment can be of great assistance to the humanistic...Read More +
Throughout his life, Vaclav Havel was an outspoken advocate for human freedom. As a writer, he found himself frequently at odds with Czechoslovakia’s communist government. In 1977, he joined other dissidents in writing Charter 77, a document that called on the government to respect basic human rights. Like other democratic activists, Havel was frequently harassed, detained, and imprisoned by the authorities.
Havel helped lead the nonviolent demonstrations that brought down the communists in 1989 and in a remarkable turn of events, the former dissident...Read More +
Writer and dissident Vaclav Havel was among the authors of Charter 77, a manifesto that called on the communist government of Czechoslovakia to respect human rights. When Charter 77 was published and circulated, it prompted a harsh reaction from the government. Many of those who signed the document were harassed, arrested and detained by the secret police.
Havel was taken into custody in January 1977 for circulating copies of the charter and released in May. State-controlled media released selective excerpts of a letter Havel wrote, where he indicated that...Read More +