‘Velvet Revolution’ Leader Vaclav Havel Dies After Long Illness at Age 75

Reuters: Vaclav Havel, a dissident playwright who was jailed by Communists and then went on to lead the bloodless “Velvet Revolution” and become Czech president, died at 75 on Sunday, after a long illness. He battled lung cancer and a burst intestine in the late 1990s that left him frail in later years.

Havel was with his wife Dagmara and a nun who had been caring for him when he died at his country home, north of Prague. “Today Vaclav Havel has left us,” his secretary, Sabina Tancevova, said in a statement.

The diminutive playwright, who once took Bill Clinton to a Prague jazz club and was also a friend of Mick Jagger, rose to fame by facing down Prague’s communist regime when he demanded they respect at least their own human rights pledges. Source: Reuters

Vaclav Havel was also an original member of Charter 77,  a human rights group, that lobbed the first strike to the Communist state in the late 1970s. He, like Nelson Mandela, spent many years in prison for his political activism, emerging victorious in the eventual collapse of Czechoslovak Communism. After the break up of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel was elected president again. He is considered as one of the architects of the Eastern revolutions that destroyed Communism and chartered a course for independence.

Enhanced by Zemanta