Skip to comments.India awards ex-Czech president Havel its top Gandhi peace prize
Posted on 01/05/2004 7:25:37 PM PST by NormsRevenge
NEW DELHI (AFP) -
India awarded former Czech president Vaclav Havel its highest honour, the Mahatma Gandhi peace prize, saluting him for keeping alive the "flame of democracy" when his country was under communist rule.
At a ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi on Monday, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam hailed Havel as "a courageous voice of democracy" as he gave him the Gandhi peace prize which carries with it an award of 10 million rupees (200,000 dollars).
"The way he (Havel) kindled and kept the flame of democracy burning amidst a storm of repression and autocracy truly reflects the commitment which Havel has for Gandhian principles of non-violence and fearlessness in the face of oppression," Kalam said.
He described Havel as the "torch-bearer of the principles" which India's independence hero and apostle of peace, Mahatma Gandhi, held dear.
Havel was jailed by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia for five years for his role as a human rights activist after the 1968 Prague Spring, and was subsequently banned from public life.
He was instrumental in the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the bloodless overthrow of the Communist regime, and led what then became the Czech Republic from the end of 1989 until February 2003.
Kalam told the audience at the awards ceremony that in the 12 years since Havel had helped bring about the fall of Communism in eastern Europe, the former Czech leader had presided over a period of "remarkable change".
Czechoslovakia split peacefully in half, while the Czech Republic joined NATO (news - web sites), and won an invitation to join the European Union (news - web sites).
A famed playwright, Havel has remained perennially popular on the international scene for upholding human rights.
He was accompanied to India by his wife, actress Dagmar Veskrnova.
The couple will travel on to Thailand for 10 days and then spend January 17 to 24 in Taiwan at the invitation of President Chen Shui-bian, who will also offer Havel the island's highest distinction.
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More precisely, Havel has no principles. When he was in limbo as a disident during Communism, when he could not publish inCzechoslovakia, Serbian theaters were playing his pathethic plays to financially support him and Serbian publishers were printing his book with all money going to him and other Czech disidents.
When Havel became president, he returned favor to Serbs hundredfold. He was the most rabid supporter of Serb enemies.
In 1999, he was the most rabid supporter of bombing of Serb civilians
This award is an affront to the memory of Gandhi. Havel is a desktop murderer, not pacifist.