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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid