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article imageRock stars pay for tapestry to honor Vaclav Havel

By Layne Weiss     Nov 20, 2012 in Arts
Prague - Rock stars Bono, Edge, Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Yoko Ono Lennon have paid the costs of a tapestry that will be unveiled next month at the Prague airport, which has been renamed after former Czech President Vaclav Havel.
According to airport officials, the tapestry, which honors Havel, was designed by Czech-born New York-based artist Peter Sis, and will be unveiled in a special ceremony on December 9, The Associated Press reports.
The project was proposed by Bill Shipsey, founder of Art for Amnesty.
Bono, Edge, Sting, Peter, Gabriel, and Yoko Ono Lennon collectively covered the project, which costs 1.5 million koruna ($76,000).
Vaclav Havel was a Czech dissident playwright. He led a 1989 revolution that destroyed decades of communist rule and brought down the Berlin Wall.
He served as President of the Czech Republic from 1993-2003.
Havel had served as Czechoslovakian President from 1989, but when Czechoslovakia was split into two countries, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, he remained President of the Czech Republic, BBC News reports.
Havel died in his sleep on December 18, 2011, of a respiratory illness. Mourners at his funeral, which was held on December 23, 2011, included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, Sir John Major, then-President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, and more.
Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to Havel.
"I remember how Mr. Havel defended human rights courageously at a time when they were systematically refused to the people of your country," the pope said in a telegram to Czech President Vaclav Kalus.
"I want to pay homage to his visionary leadership which allowed a new political reality to be forged following the fall of the preceding regime. I thank God for the freedom that the Czech people enjoy today," he added.
Vaclav Havel was a heavy smoker for years and almost died in 1996 during a treatment for lung cancer.
On October 5, 2012, the day which Havel would have celebrated his 76th birthday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place to celebrate Prague's international airport being renamed after the former Czech President, BBC News reports.
According to The New York Times, Havel's "star" status and passion for human rights drew many world leaders to Prague including the Dalai Lama and US President Bill Clinton. In 1994, President Bill Clinton joined a saxophone jam session at President Havel's favorite jazz club.
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