“This is not only a loss for one person or one country, it is a great loss for humankind.”
Aung San Suu Kyi
This message was conveyed today through her assistant Htin Kyaw in Burma at the request of Burma Center Prague. Suu Kyi also said that she would write an article dedicated to and honoring Mr. Havel, that would be published in the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Daily News next month.
The importance of the dissident, playwright and former Czechoslovak and Czech president Václav Havel for the global support of Burma cannot be overstated. Havel nominated Aung San Suu Kyi for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, and it was no one more than him who kept Burma on the public agenda of the Czech Republic until now.
When Suu Kyi celebrated her 60th birthday while still under house arrest, Havel wrote an article entitled “A Rose for the ‘Unfree'” in the Washington Post. In that article, he expressed his wish to personally give her a rose after she gained freedom. In the end, it was Aung San Suu Kyi who presented roses to him, although not in person. A delegation of Burmese activists and former political prisoners together with the former Czech ambassador to Burma H.E. Jiří Šitler paid their last respects at Havel’s coffin, laying a bouquet of roses with a ribbon that said “To a True Friend – Aung San Suu Kyi”.
It is sad that Havel did not manage to see Burma in freedom, and that his deteriorating health has prevented him from visiting Aung San Suu Kyi. But he will still after having passed away remain the most important European statesman for the people of Burma, and one who they will always remember with gratitude, because he has done more for their country than most of their own rulers.