The Czech Republic has lost one of its greatest sons in the passing of former President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel yesterday.
President Havel will be remembered as a writer, a champion of liberty and a statesman. His resolute opposition to communism and totalitarianism, which came at significant personal cost, and his abiding commitment to human rights and personal dignity mark him as one of the great European leaders of our time.
From his foundation of Charter 77, to his pivotal role in the Velvet Revolution and his fourteen years as President, Havel was a national leader of global stature.
Havel's courageous pursuit of democracy and human rights was recognised by the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the freedom medal of the Four Freedoms Award and the Ambassador of Conscience Award, along with several other distinctions.
The thoughts and sympathy of the Australian people are with the people of the Czech Republic today, and the many thousands of Australians of Czech ancestry.
19 December 2011