Jan 4, 2012


Washington Event will Honor Vaclav Havel on Friday, Jan. 6

NED, Czech Embassy, and Havel Library mark the 35th Anniversary of Charter 77

Date: January 4, 2012
CONTACT: Jane Riley Jacobsen (202)378-9700 or jane@ned.org

WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, January 6 at 11:00 am, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in cooperation with the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Havel Library in Prague, will host a memorial event honoring the life and work of former Czech President Vaclav Havel. The program will be held at the Washington Office of the NED (1025 F St, NW 8th floor) on the 35th anniversary of the founding of Charter 77 and will feature a live video connection with a concurrent program hosted by the Havel Library. Speakers will include former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, bestselling Iranian author Azar Nafisi, as well as prominent dissidents and public  figures who have been inspired by Havel’s example and encouraged by his solidarity. Full details of the event can be found on the NED website.

“More so than any intellectual and political leader in the post-communist world, Vaclav Havel used his position, voice, and moral authority to advance present-day struggles for freedom”, said NED President Carl Gershman. “He lived to see Charter 77, which celebrates its 35th anniversary on January 6, transcend its time and place to inform and inspire dissidents following in his footsteps around the world.”

January 6 is also significant as the date in 2010 that Havel delivered a letter to the Chinese Embassy in Prague petitioning for the release of Liu Xiaobo, and launching a campaign for the Nobel Peace Prize, which Liu won in 2010. Liu was imprisoned for his authorship of Charter ’08, the Chinese democratic treatise modeled after the Czech Charter ’77. Havel was one of three original spokesmen for Charter ‘77 – a role that landed him in prison, and eventually propelled him to the forefront of the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

In addition to Albright and Nafisi, speakers will include: leading public intellectual Jean Bethke Elshtain; former US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia William Luers; Chinese democracy activist Li Xiaorong; leading Syrian democracy activist Radwan Ziadeh; President of the World Uyghur Congress Rebiyah Kadeer; and Reagan- Fascell Democracy Fellow and former Ethiopian political prisoner Birtukan Midekssa. The event will also include messages from Saad Eddin Ibrahim, founder, Ibn Khaldoun Centre, Egypt; Oswaldo Paya, founder of the Varela Project, Cuba; and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

This event will be webcast live here: http://www.ned.org/events/memorial-tribute-honoring-the-life-and-work-of-vaclav-havel.

This event is open to the media. Journalists should register with Jane Riley Jacobsen by email jane@ned.org or (202) 378-9700.