Anti-Corruption Fight is Focus of 2017 Democracy Award

CONTACT:  Jane Riley Jacobsen, 202-378-9604 or

National Endowment for Democracy to honor activists from Afghanistan, Angola, Guatemala, Malaysia, and Ukraine

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED)’s 2017 Democracy Award will highlight the courageous efforts of five activists who are battling the scourge of official corruption in Afghanistan, Angola, Guatemala, Malaysia, and Ukraine.  NED will present its award at a June 7 Capitol Hill ceremony from 5:00 – 7:00 PM in room HVC 201-AB of the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will make remarks at the presentation. Five other leading Members of Congress will present the awards, including NED Board members Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), as well as Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Norma Torres (D-CA).

Counting the Cost: The impact of corruption on democratic growth and stability,” will be the topic of a morning event featuring the five honorees also on June 7 at NED’s Washington, DC office located at 1025 F Street, NW, Suite 800 from 8:30– 11:00 AM.  U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) is confirmed as a keynote speaker.   CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski will moderate.

“All over the world, brave individuals and organizations are calling on governments and official institutions to be accountable to citizens,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “Citizen movements are rising up to demand transparency and good government, often in response to the courageous work of activists like these five honorees, who have risked their careers, their freedom,  and their very lives to expose corruption and it’s terrible consequences.”

The 2017 Democracy Award Honorees are:

  • Khalil Parsa (Afghanistan) is key human rights advocate and anti-corruption leader from Herat. He is the founder and executive director of Supporting Organization for Afghanistan Civil Society (SOACS).  Parsa’s work made him the target of a 2016 assassination attempt.  Shot six times, he is lucky to be alive.
  • Rafael Marques de Morais (Angola) is renowned journalist and human rights defender focused on investigating government corruption and abuses in the Angola’s diamond industry. He has been imprisoned for his work and is constantly harassed by the Dos Santos regime.
  • Claudia Escobar (Guatemala) is a judge who not only refused to participate in corruption, but became the lead whistleblower in a case of grand corruption involving the Vice-president of Guatemala and the former President of Congress.
  • Cynthia Gabriel (Malaysia) is a human rights advocate and anti-corruption leader. She is the founder of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), the leading anti-corruption organization in a country currently in the throes of an enormous corruption scandal.
  • Denys Bihus (Ukraine) leads TOM 14, a group of professional investigative journalists in Ukraine, and is the host of a very popular, influential, and award-winning anti-corruption television program, Nashi Hroshi (Our Money). Bihus also coordinates the activities of thousands of volunteers, known as the “Kantselyarska Sotnya” (“The White Collar Hundred”), who are restoring documents shredded by the team of Former Ukrainian President Yanukovych.

These events are open to the media.  Credentialed journalists must register in advance with NED public affairs by email:

The National Endowment for Democracy is a private, nonprofit, grant-making organization 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

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