For more than two decades following the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan experienced an almost indescribable national tragedy – first the war against the Soviet invader that left the country in ruins, its economy shattered and millions of its people maimed by landmines or driven into exile; then the devastating civil war in which tens of thousands died and whole communities were reduced to rubble; and finally, the rule of the Taliban, which subjected the entire population to a harsh theocratic dictatorship and turned the country into a launching ground for international terrorism. 

The liberation of Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks upon the United States has given the Afghan people the opportunity for national rebirth. They have seized this opportunity by adopting a new constitution and voting in overwhelming numbers in last October’s historic presidential election, in defiance of terrorist threats to their safety. But they still face the awesome challenges of rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, reviving its economy, unifying the population around a common national vision, and building stable democratic institutions. 

In meeting these challenges, Afghans need and deserve the sustained support of the United States and other democracies. But the decisive contribution to Afghanistan’s rebirth must come from the people themselves, working through organizations of civil society devoted to the education and empowerment of all Afghans, including women and youth. The NED is proud to present its 2005 Democracy Award to the leaders of three such organizations:

Working with countless other Afghans committed to building a democratic and tolerant society, these three individuals have demonstrated unusual courage, determination and vision. For their service to the democratic rebirth of Afghanistan, the National Endowment for Democracy is honored to present its 2005 Democracy Award to Sakena Yacoobi, Mohammad Nasib and Sarwar Hussaini. 

The Democracy Award is given annually by the National Endowment for Democracy’s Board of Directors to recognize the courageous and creative work of individuals and organizations that has advanced the cause of human rights and democracy around the world.