We’ve learned that Vaclav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic (1993 - 2003) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il have died.
The deaths of these two world figures couldn’t be more striking. One, a non-violent freedom fighter, lived to champion human rights, end repression, and led the bloodless revolution in 1989 to abolish communism in Czechoslovakia. The other, a brutal, repressive, nuclear-menacing communist dictator, ruled his starving, impoverished nation with an iron fist (human rights doesn’t exist, few N. Koreans have modern amenities - refrigerators, stoves, telephones and even access to plain, ordinary writing paper for citizens is severely restricted).
While the media is focused on the Dear Leader’s passing and the uncertainty surrounding the transfer of power in N. Korea, I want to share a few tributes from around the world for Vaclav Havel.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney:
VACLAV HAVEL INSPIRED FREEDOM’S ALLIES
“In the darkest days of tyranny, Vaclav Havel shined a light on the injustices and contradictions of communism. The power of his words and the depth of his courage inspired freedom’s allies in his homeland and around the world. The Velvet Revolution he led changed the course of history, and helped bring to an end an empire of oppression. He will be remembered as one of history’s great men: the scourge of tyrants and a champion for liberty.”
Former U.S. President George W. Bush:
“The most subversive act of the playwright from Prague was telling the truth about tyranny. And when that truth finally triumphed, the people elected this dignified, charming, humble, determined man to lead their country. Unintimidated by threats, unchanged by political power, Vaclav Havel suffered much in the cause of freedom and became one of its greatest heroes.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“Havel was a brave and powerful voice against totalitarianism and an inspiration for dissidents everywhere struggling for freedom.”
Solidarity founder and Poland’s former president Lech Walesa:
“A great fighter for the freedom of nations and for democracy has died . . . His outstanding voice of wisdom will be missed in Europe, which is going through a serious crisis. I am praying for the peace of his soul.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron:
“No one of my generation will ever forget those powerful scenes from Wenceslas Square two decades ago. Havel led the Czech people out of tyranny. And he helped bring freedom and democracy to our entire continent. Europe owes Vaclav Havel a profound debt. Today his voice has fallen silent. But his example and the cause to which he devoted his life will live on.”
President Barack Obama:
“His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. … He also embodied the aspirations of half a continent that had been cut off by the Iron Curtain, and helped unleash tides of history that led to a united and democratic Europe.”
Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush:
“Barbara and I join in mourning the death of Vaclav Havel, a gentle soul whose fierce devotion to the rights of man helped his countrymen cast aside the chains of tyranny and claim their rightful place among the free nations of world. His personal courage throughout that twilight struggle inspired millions around the world, including those of us who worked with him during a historic period of transformation for Europe.”
Read additional tributes here.
Rest in peace.
► Jayde Wyatt