Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

21 December 2011

Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy an inspiration

Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy an inspiration
Havel was a key leader the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of November and December 1989

Havel was a key leader the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of November and December 1989

© Lubomir Koteka/AFP/Getty

See video
Those that say that individuals are not capable of changing anything are only looking for excuses.
Vaclav Havel

Amnesty International paid tribute today to the inspiring legacy of Vaclav Havel, human rights defender, last President of Czechoslovakia, and the first Czech President, ahead of his funeral on Friday.

Havel passed away on 18 December at the age of 75.  Originally a playwright, he led the former Czechoslovakia’s dissident human rights movement Charter 77, was repeatedly jailed by the Communist government, and adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.
He was a key leader in the country’s anti-government ‘Velvet Revolution’ of November and December 1989, and became Czechoslovakia’s democratically elected president soon after.

“Havel leaves behind an outstanding moral and intellectual legacy. He has been one of the most emblematic figures of the 20th century and his work as advocate for human rights, democracy and freedom is an inspiration for all of us”,  said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“The world will miss him terribly and he cannot and will not be forgotten.”

Havel was a member of the first Amnesty International group set up in Prague, and was a strong supporter of the organisation.  On Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary this year, he said:

“It's up to all of us to try - and those that say that individuals are not capable of changing anything are only looking for excuses.”

Amnesty International named Vaclav Havel its inaugural Ambassador of Conscience in 2003. He continued to play an important role in speaking up for human rights around the world up until his death.

Read More

'How did Vaclav Havel inspire me?' (Join the Facebook page and leave a message of condolence)


Prisoners Of Conscience 


Czech Republic 
Slovak Republic 


Europe And Central Asia 

@amnestyonline on twitter


11 April 2014

There are mounting fears over the fate of  a man who went missing 11 days ago after tweeting pictures of an attempted jail break in Abuja, Amnesty International said today... Read more »

08 April 2014

Rick Perry must stop Wednesday’s execution of Ramiro Hernández Llanas, a Mexican national with a mental disability.

Read more »
14 April 2014

The early release in Viet Nam of several prisoners of conscience is welcome, but serves to highlight the situation of at least 70 others who remain jailed for peacefully... Read more »

09 April 2014

A new resource to arm lawyers, defendants and the judiciary with the tools to fight against unfair trials and injustice is published by Amnesty International today.

Read more »
16 April 2014

Ten years after serving a full sentence for his revelations to the press about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, Mordechai Vanunu still faces severe restrictions that... Read more »