This Friday (April 17), landmarks all over the world were lit up in red in a show of support for World Hemophilia Day, including the Petřín Tower in Prague.
From Australia to Europe to North America, in small cities and giant metropolises, and around historical buildings and natural wonders, people come together to support women and girls with bleeding disorders.
“We think it important to turn the public’s attention to this topic. According to available surveys, more than half of Czechs do not know what hemophilia is, or how it manifests,” said City Councilor Jan Chabr (United Force for Prague). “Even during a pandemic, there are certain problems that we should not forget,” he added.
On public holidays and other important dates, the tower has also been lit up in red, white, and blue after the Czech Republic flag.
During the past two years, the tower has been lit in green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which will occur again on March 17, 2016.
About World Federation of Hemophilia
Started in 1989 by the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH), in honor of their founder Frank Schnabel’s birthday, World Hemophilia Day is celebrated each year on April 17th.
The goal of this annual health observance day is to increase awareness of hemophilia and other inherited bleeding disorders and ultimately lead to earlier diagnosis and access to care for the millions who remain without treatment. This year’s theme was “Hear their voices” with a special focus on supporting the millions of women and girls affected by bleeding disorders.
Statistics show that hemophilia A occurs in 1 out of 5,000 male births and about 400 babies are born with the disorder annually. Additionally, an estimated 400,000 people around the world have hemophilia.
About 75% of these people are unable to access adequate treatment or have no access to treatment completely. While there is no cure for this bleeding disorder, there are very effective treatment options available.
“Getting involved in the rare inherited bleeding disorders community is so important. World Hemophilia Day is an opportunity to show the world how important taking action is. It’s also a wonderful way for us all to feel proud of what we’re doing in the name of Treatment for All,” said Alain Weill, President of the WFH.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, Prague’s Petřín Tower – which was modeled after, and strongly resembles, the Eiffel Tower – will lit up in blue, white, and red.
November 17th is a very important day for Czechs for two reasons.
The original event that 17 November commemorated was the resistance of student demonstrators in 1939 to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Initially, a student named Jan Opletal was shot in a protest and died on 11 November.
His funeral, attended by thousands of students, turned into another anti-Nazi demonstration.
One witness to those events said that the Gestapo and German soldiers had swept into student dorms in Prague, Brno, and Příbram, and dragged students off to Ruzyně prison. Nine student leaders were murdered by the Nazis and more than 1,000 sent to concentration camps.
As a result of these tragedies, in 1941, the 17th of November was marked as International Students’ Day.
Fifty years after such oppression, in 1989, Czech students organized a demonstration to commemorate the student martyr Jan Opletal and the International Students Day. It started off as an officially-sanctioned march but turned quickly into demonstration demanding the resignation of the country’s communist government. Students were brutally beaten by riot police.
This demonstration, which took place on November 17, 1989, is believed to have sparked the Velvet Revolution which eventually led to the freedom of the Czech people.
The special lighting was not a first-time event. On public holidays and other important dates, the tower has also been lit up in red, white, and blue after the Czech Republic flag.
Petřín Tower was built as part of the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891 as a loose copy inspired by the Eiffel Tower (at a ratio of 1:5). It is 63.5 metres high, and 299 steps lead to its peak, which is at the same altitude as the real Eiffel Tower.