News / Europe

Czechs, World Leaders Bid Farewell to Vaclav Havel

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd R) and Romanian President Traian Basescu (R) attend the funeral ceremony for the late former President Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle's St. Vitus Cathedral December 23, 2011
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd R) and Romanian President Traian Basescu (R) attend the funeral ceremony for the late former President Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle's St. Vitus Cathedral December 23, 2011

World leaders and the people of the Czech Republic have paid their final respects to former president Vaclav Havel at a state funeral in Prague, ending a week of honoring the dissident playwright and anti-communist icon.

The 75-year old former Czech leader died in his sleep of respiratory problems on Sunday.

Bells and sirens rang out during a moment of silence in memory of the country's first democratically elected president.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among the world leaders who attended the funeral mass for Mr. Havel at the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Czech-born former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright also paid tribute.

In a message read at Friday's mass, Pope Benedict praised Mr. Havel, recalling "how courageously he defended human rights at a time when they were systematically denied."

Since Monday, tens of thousands of Czechs have remembered their former president, filing past his casket inside a church in central Prague.

Mr. Havel took office in 1989, after leading what has come to be known as the "Velvet Revolution" that ended four decades of communist rule. He oversaw Czechoslovakia's transition to a free-market economy and democracy, as well as its peaceful 1993 split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Slovakia has declared Friday a national day of mourning in his honor.

Mr. Havel has been applauded by several European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who described him as a "great European" who fought for freedom on the continent.

Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992, and leader of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More