One Year After His Passing, HRF Remembers Václav Havel
NEW YORK (December 18, 2012)—One year ago, the Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF) chairman Václav Havel passed away in the Czech Republic. The world lost a statesman, a playwright, an artist, a poet, a revolutionary, and a champion of democracy. Today, HRF celebrates Havel’s life and legacy by highlighting his talk from the 2009 Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF).
In Havel’s message to the inaugural OFF, he told us: “There are many dictatorships, quasi-dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, and even totalitarian regimes in the world. While their ideologies vary greatly, they resemble each other in function, and must be confronted constantly.” This statement continues to drive HRF’s efforts to counter tyranny in all of its forms.
“HRF was privileged and honored by Havel’s presence as chairman of our board. He contributed richly to the spirit and substance of our work,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “We mourn his absence, but remember that by inspiring so many, he left an indelible mark on human progress,” Halvorssen continued.
In 2012, HRF established the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent. Recognizing those who, with bravery and ingenuity, unmask the lie of dictatorship by living in truth, HRF awarded the first Havel Prize to Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and Saudi women’s rights advocate Manal al-Sharif. Hailed as “a glimmer of inspiration” in a Wall Street Journal editorial, the Havel Prize was created by HRF with the enthusiastic endorsement of Dagmar Havlová, Havel’s widow, and was funded jointly by grants from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation, the Thiel Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation.
“Through the Havel Prize, and through all of HRF’s efforts to promote individual rights across the world, Havel’s legacy lives on. We encourage you to share his video message and learn from his extraordinary story,” said Halvorssen. In Havel’s own words, which continue to inspire HRF: “The more we did, the more we were able to do, and the more we were able to do, the more we did.”
HRF protects and promotes human rights. HRF believes that all human beings are entitled to freedom of self-determination, freedom from tyranny, the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council is chaired by pro-democracy activist Garry Kasparov, and includes former prisoners of conscience George Ayittey, Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.
Contact: Thor Halvorssen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-246-8486