Former Czech President and Brave Human Rights Defender Vaclav Havel Dies

Press Release
December 18, 2011

Former Czech President and Brave Human Rights Defender Vaclav Havel Dies

Amnesty International today expressed sadness about the news that former Czech President and brave human rights defender Vaclav Havel has died. Amnesty International adopted Havel as a prisoner of conscience during his imprisonment, campaigned for his release and awarded him its inaugural Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2003.

"The world has lost an amazing human rights leader. Vaclav Havel embodied the spirit of thousands of brave human rights defenders, who challenge oppression and the denial of human dignity. He did so by combining humor and a steadfast determination to fight for fundamental rights no matter the cost to his personal well-being. The pressure he brought on his government while a prisoner of conscience and the spotlight he shone on repression helped bring human rights to millions of people. When he later led the government, he worked diligently to ensure that the rights of freedom of expression and opinion were respected and protected and that the people he governed would not, again, be imprisoned for exercising their basic human rights. We thank Havel, once again, for his courage and leadership as we bidq him farewell."

Havel was featured in an award-winning AIUSA public service announcement.