Havel takes part in protest against imprisonment of Chinese dissident

Former Czech president Václav Havel took part in a protest outside the Chinese embassy in Prague on Wednesday against the imprisonment of a Chinese dissident. Along with the cleric Bishop Václav Malý and actor Pavel Landovský, Mr Havel attempted to hand an open letter to embassy officials calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo, who was recently sentenced to 11 years in jail after criticising the Chinese government. When officials did not answer a bell at the embassy gate, the three posted the letter in its mailbox. Václav Havel, who was himself a dissident, told reporters that January 6 was a significant date, as it was on Three Kings’ Day 33 years ago that the Charter 77 protest document was issued in communist Czechoslovakia.

Meanwhile, the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, has asked the minister of foreign affairs, Pavel Kohout, to look into the imprisonment of Mr Liu. A spokesperson for the government said that would involve interviewing the Chinese ambassador to Prague about the subject.

Author: Ian Willoughby