WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, May 29, 2014, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) will honor in absentia Chinese political prisoners Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong with the presentation of the 2014 Democracy Award. The award to Mr. Liu will be accepted by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the award to Dr. Xu will be accepted by another Chinese rights advocate, Hua Ze. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski will also make remarks. Liu Xiaobo was the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize and Xu Zhiyong is the founder of the New Citizens’ Movement.
At the same event, the Endowment will also honor a tireless defender of human rights in China and around the world, U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), who will receive the Democracy Service Medal. NED Chairman Martin Frost will preside at the award presentation, which will take place at a Capitol Hill reception in room B-338 of the Rayburn House Office Building from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on May 29.
“Twenty-five years ago, Chinese tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square, crushing peaceful demonstrations for democracy,” said NED President Carl Gershman. Despite this brutal crackdown, and 25 years of harsh repression since, brave Chinese voices continue to call for democracy and human rights. The National Endowment for Democracy is proud to honor two of these voices – Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong – both locked in Chinese prisons because the regime views the power of their ideas as an existential challenge.”
Since 1991, NED has presented as its Democracy Award a small-scale replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue that was constructed in Tiananmen Square during the student movement for Democracy and Freedom in 1989.
About the Honorees
Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, was unable to receive the prize due to an 11-year prison sentence for his critical writings and role in launching Charter 08. The declaration calling for political reforms and human rights published in 2008 quickly garnered over 10,000 signatories from throughout China. Liu Xiaobo has played a major role in advancing democratic ideas and values in China. Among his many contributions is his work as editor of Democratic China magazine for several years until his arrest, and his tenure as president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007. Both organizations have received annual NED grants for many years.
Xu Zhiyong, a legal scholar, has been at the forefront of campaigns for rights in China for the past decade. He cofounded the Open Constitution Initiative, an independent center, which brought together rights lawyers, liberal intellectuals, journalists and citizen activists from 2006-2009 to work for the rule of law in China. Dr. Xu’s landmark article in 2012, China Needs a New Citizens’ Movement, helped define and encourage hundreds of initiatives to help citizens assert their rights and demand accountability. Dr. Xu and dozens of others involved in the New Citizens’ Movement have been detained since 2013. Dr. Xu received a four-year prison sentence in January 2014, after a closed-door trial found him guilty of “gathering a crowd and disturbing public order.”
Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) is one of the Congress’ most eloquent and persistent advocates for human rights around the world. In addition to speaking out on behalf of victims of religious and other forms of persecution, Rep. Wolf is the co-chairman, along with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The National Endowment for Democracy is a private, nonprofit, bipartisan foundation created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world. It is active in more than 90 countries, supporting grassroots, democratic initiatives. More information about NED and the Democracy Award can be found at www.ned.org.
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