Pelosi Statement on the Passing of Vaclav Havel

Dec 18, 2011
Press Release

Contact: Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the passing of former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel:

“Today, Americans, the men and women of the Czech Republic, and people around the world mourn the loss of President Vaclav Havel – a defender of freedom, a champion of human rights, and an apostle of hope. He was a dissident, a playwright, a political icon, and the father of the ‘Velvet Revolution.’ His words helped bring down an empire; his deeds helped give birth to a democratic Europe; his leadership inspired the forces of liberty, justice, and peace for all humanity.

“Many of us remember his magnificent address to a joint session of Congress in February 1990 – just four months after his last arrest for speaking truth and advocating change. To an assembly of American leaders, he spoke of living in extraordinary times, in a changing world, in a transformative moment in history – times led, a world he shaped, history he made and accelerated. Indeed, by his actions, by his spirit, by his unrelenting passion for freedom, truth and love did secure the ultimate triumph over lies and hatred - and the impossible became reality.

"With Vaclav Havel's passing, supporters of human rights in China and Tibet have lost one of their strongest and most articulate global champions. His 'Charter 77' laid the groundwork for the 'Charter 08' of Chinese dissidents - paving the path for another people half-a-world away to demand their own fundamental rights.

“Vaclav Havel wrote plays, penned a charter for reform, and, ultimately, crafted a new chapter of democracy for his country and his continent, for people beyond the borders of his nation, for generations yet to come. His name will be forever etched into the annals of history; his legacy will forever be a shining example for all who continue to fight for freedom. We only hope it is a comfort to his family and loved ones that so many share in their grief at this time.”