2008 NED Democracy Award to honor Heroes of Human Rights and Democracy in China

Life and work of Tom Lantos will be honored with Democracy Service Medal

On Tuesday June 17, the National Endowment for Democracy will honor the heroic efforts of Chinese workers, lawyers, and writers working to advance democratic values and fundamental rights within China with the presentation of its annual Democracy Award. Chen Guangchen , Zhang Jianhong, Yao Fuxin and Hu Sigen, who are all serving sentences in Chinese prisons, are four of the recipients. Other honorees cannot be named publicly until the award ceremony. The award presentation and a roundtable discussion will take place on Capitol Hill in the Caucus Room (345) of the Cannon House Office Building at 3:30 – 5:00 PM.

Commenting on the selection of this year’s awardees, NED Chairman Vin Weber said, “As China prepares to host the Olympic Games, with the attention of the world focused on that country’s many achievements and its rich culture, the world must not forget those who labor in the background to secure the most basic rights and protections for the people of China – the right to associate, to write and speak freely, to worship, to organize for better working conditions, for the rule of law, and for and the protection of basic human dignity.”

The award presentation will be preceded by a roundtable discussion, Law, Rights and Democracy in China: Perspectives of Leading Advocates. The honorees will be joined in the discussion by other notable activists and advocates for basic rights in China, including Han Dongfang, – executive director of China Labour Bulletin, Bob Fu – founder of the China Aid Association and a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement, Sharon Hom – executive director of Human Rights in China, Xiao Qiang – founder and publisher of China Digital Times,Wang Tiancheng – a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party of China and the Free Labor Union of China, and Yang Jianli – a Chinese democracy activist recently released from prison, who now is president of Initiatives for China.

The Democracy Awards, which this year focus on work in the areas of Human Rights and Rule of Law, Religious Freedom, Freedom of Expression, and Worker Rights, will be presented by three members of the US Congress, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Frank Wolf (R-VA), as well as the vice chairman of NED’s Board of Directors Richard Gephardt, who is the former House Minority Leader. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) will also make remarks at the program.

NED will also honor the life-long contributions of one of the US Congress’ most stalwart supporters of human rights in China and every other part of the world, the late Tom Lantos (D-CA) with the presentation of its Democracy Service Medal.