Human Rights Group Pays Tribute to Late Czech Leader Vaclav Havel

Posted December 21st, 2011 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Amnesty International has paid tribute to former Czezh leader Vaclav Havel who died Sunday of respiratory problems at 75.

Amnesty said Wednesday that Mr. Havel was a human rights defender who left behind “an outstanding moral and intellectual legacy.” A senior Amnesty official said his work as an advocate for human rights, democracy, and freedom is an inspiration to everyone.

In 2003, Amnesty International named Mr. Havel its first “Ambassador of Conscience,” the group's most prestigious human rights award.

Mr. Havel, a dissident playwright, was Czechoslovakia's first democratically elected president in 1989 after leading the peaceful revolution that ended communist rule. He oversaw the country's transition to a free-market economy and democracy, and its peaceful split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. Mr. Havel was president of the Czech Republic until 2003.

His funeral is scheduled for Friday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norman Eisen, will be the official U.S. delegation at the services.