Tradition after November 1989
“Inconspicuous or invisible monuments can be built; you need only to inscribe the victims’ names on a stone slab and place it upside down. Who doesn’t want to see such a monument, doesn’t have to. I think there is only one anti-monument in the Czech Republic. It was created by Barbora Veselá in remembrance of Jan Palach and it stands in Wenceslas Square right in front of the National Museum...”
After November 1989, Jan Palach could be remembered freely and publicly for the first time. On 20 December 1989, the square in front of the main building of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague was once again renamed after him (it was renamed in honour of Jan Palach quite spontaneously in January 1969). A plaque made by sculptor Olbram Zoubek with a replica of Jan Palach’s death mask was placed on the Faculty building. The symbolic day of homecoming was 25 October 1990, as it was the day of the ceremonial transport of the urn with Jan Palach’s ashes from Všetaty to the Olšany cemetery in Prague. Jiří Lederer’s book on Jan Palach’s act was published in the same year.
On 28 October 1991, President Václav Havel bestowed Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc in memoriam the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, 1st rank, for their outstanding contribution to the development of democracy and human rights. In 2000, an extraordinary monument to Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc was built in front of the National Museum in Prague.
The Student Strike Committee, which was established at the Faculty of Arts in Prague during the revolution, later initiated the establishment of the Faculty Student Fund that was supposed to work as an instrument facilitating the communication between students and the Faculty management.
The Student Council served as its executive body, and since the early 1990s, it has been organizing commemorative events on the anniversaries of Jan Palach’s self-immolation. These events usually consist of small memorial ceremonies, documentary screenings, and panel discussions.
In 2009, the Student Council participated in commemorations of the 40th anniversary of Jan Palach’s act, including a memorial ceremony, concert, mass, exhibition and conference. On this occasion, a detailed book called Jan Palach '69 was published. Moreover, Jan Palach’s monument was unveiled that year in Mělník, in front of the grammar school he attended.
Since the early 1990s, a memorial ceremony takes place every year in Všetaty under the auspices of the Society of Jan Palach. Furthermore, a private memorial ceremony takes place regularly in the Olšany cemetery in Prague.