Seoul Peace Prize

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As leader of the intellectual dissidence, he served as a powerful catalyst in bringing about the collapse of Communism in central and eastern Europe. There is a saying which goes, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” When Soviet troops invaded and imposed hard-line Communist party control in Czechoslovakia after the Spring of Prague in l968, Mr. Havel did not remain silent, but stood against tyranny with unusual courage. With the pen alone, he kept protesting the iron-fist rule of the Communist regime, refusing to go into exile the way so many other writers and artists of his country did at the time. He said, “The solution to the situation does not lie in leaving it. Fourteen million people can’t just go and leave Czechoslovakia.” He spent the l980’s in and out of prison, writing plays that he could not see performed in his own country.
  Mr. Havel soon became not only a hero of the Czech people but of their neighbors as well. His courageous action galvanized the dissident movement in other East and central European countries, and eventually brought about the collapse of the totalitarian system in Europe.
  He became the first non-Communist president of his country since l948 and served his people for l3 years. He said jokingly, “If you want to see your plays performed the way you wrote them, become president.”
  Today, Mr. Havel is a senior statesman respected world-wide. But he is not complacent. With his unswerving conviction about democracy and human rights, he uses his moral authority to condemn human rights abuses in Myanmar, North Korea, Cuba and anywhere in the world and urge the international community to act to remedy the situation.
  In an article contributed to the Washington Post last June, Mr. Havel castigated human rights abuses in North Korea, and called on the international community to deal firmly with the Stalinist state.