Vaclav Havel, Former President of the Czech Republic, gets a standing ovation at the end of the 15th Forum 2000 Conference on "Democracy and the Rule of Law" in Prague, October 11, 2011.

© 2011 Reuters

(New York) – Human Rights Watch is deeply saddened by the death of Vaclav Havel, the playwright, political dissident and former Czech president who died on December 18, 2011. “Havel inspired his people, and millions more across eastern Europe, to stand up for democracy and fundamental human rights in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch.

Havel was also a great friend and supporter of Human Rights Watch and worked closely with Helsinki Watch, its predecessor organization, during the dissident struggle against oppression under Communism. We will miss his wise advice and wry humor. We send our condolences to his family, friends and admirers everywhere.