The ‘’Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stíhaných’’ (VONS) or the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted

The ‘’Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stíhaných’’ (VONS) or the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted was founded in Czechoslovakia in April 1978. Founded by several signatories of the Charter 77, the VONS was modeled after the Polish KOR movement. Like the KOR, it sought to assist persons being persecuted by the government for their beliefs. It provided legal counsel, financial assistance, and other forms of support to these people. Besides the support they provided, they also tried to raise awareness for the cases they were currently accompanying. They did this by writing communiqués which were published in the Charter 77 newsletter, and often also broadcast by radio stations based abroad which could reach into Soviet territory. These communiqués were very important as they broke the information monopoly held by the state.

Through showing the Czechoslovak people details of individual cases, the broader pattern of lies by the government was uncovered. As one can imagine, the government and secret police were not amused by these efforts, and soon many of the founding members of VONS were in prison. Others were forced to emigrate. However, their fellow dissidents were not discouraged and managed to publish a total of 1.295 communiqués between 1978 and 1989. After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Velvet Revolution, VONS continued as a movement advocating for certain legal amendments in the criminal code and rehabilitation laws. It was disbanded in 1996.


Badalassi, N., & Snyder, S. (Eds.). (2019). The CSCE and the End of the Cold War: Diplomacy, Societies and Human Rights, 1972-1990. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Snyder, S.H. (2011). Human Rights Activists and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Lazarová, Daniela (April 28, 1998). Committee for the Defense of Unjustly Persecuted Persons. Radio Prague. Retrieved February 1st, 2022.