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FOREIGN AFFAIRS—CZECH REPUBLIC—VACLAV HAVEL

Senator Mason, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 625—That the Senate—

 (a) notes the passing and recognises the inspirational life and achievements of Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright and first post-communist President of Czechoslovakia, who:


  (i) as Warsaw Pact tanks invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, improvised resistance by setting up a clandestine radio station and distributing leaflets,

  (ii) resisted the corruption of communist rule with plays and essays dedicated to human dignity and independence,

  (iii) co-authored the human rights charter, called Charter 77, which brought him international recognition as the leader of opposition in Czechoslovakia,

  (iv) endured years of persecution and imprisonment,

  (v) in writings, for which he was jailed, warned communist leaders that by attempting to stifle the human urge for freedom, they were dooming their own system,

  (vi) led his nation through the bloodless Velvet Revolution that toppled the brutal Soviet-backed communist regime in the then Czechoslovakia,

  (vii) was elected President of his country on 29 December 1989, the day after Alexander Dubcek was elected speaker of its federal parliament,

  (viii) presided over his country's transition to a free economy, steered his country into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and prepared the way for its entry into the European Union,

  (ix) guided his nation through the slow and difficult process of recovery from the spiritual damage caused by four decades of communist totalitarian rule,

  (x) received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Freedom Medal of the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award and many other distinctions,

  (xi) was a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism that proposed the establishment of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, and

  (xii) advocated collective action to end ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo and supported democratic activists in Cuba, Zimbabwe, China, Burma and elsewhere; and

 (b) conveys its condolences to the people of the Czech Republic.

Statements by leave: Senator Mason and the Leader of the Australian Greens (Senator Bob Brown), by leave, made statements relating to the motion.

Question put and passed.