Defenders of Human and Religious Rights in China to Receive 2019 Democracy Award on 30th Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre

National Endowment for Democracy to Honor Uyghur, Tibetan, and Chinese Christian Activists

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) will honor defenders of human and religious rights in China with its 2019 Democracy Award at a June 4th ceremony in the U.S. Capitol, exactly 30 years after the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing in 1989. The ceremony will take place from 5:00 -7:00 pm in room HC-5 of the Capitol. Confirmed speakers include House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elizabeth Cheney (R-WY), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX). Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will also address the event.

The 2019 Democracy Award Honorees are:

  • The World Uyghur Congress (represented by Dolkun Isa)
  • Tibet Action Institute (represented by Lhadon Tethong)
  • ChinaAid (represented by Bob Fu)

See brief descriptions of each organization and their representatives at the end of this release.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been practicing and perfecting its tools to erase identity and dissent, largely with impunity within its claimed borders. Marginalized groups, such as religious and ethnic minorities, have been the primary target for the CCP’s repression, and they have been on the front lines of contestation.

“The 2019 Democracy Award honors three groups who are working at the forefront of one of the most important human rights struggles of our time,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “We have seen the reports of millions of Uyghurs imprisoned in China’s internment camps and the abuses that are carried out there,” said Gershman. “We know the history of China’s nearly 70 years of brutal repression in Tibet; and we are now seeing the increased persecution of Christians and the destruction of churches as part of an all-out campaign against religion in China. We honor these three groups that are fighting back against the CCP’s systematic crackdown aimed at erasing their identities and history, and for their resilient efforts to preserve their freedom of belief, their language, their culture, and their most basic rights.”

The Endowment will also host a conference on June 3, “China’s Repression Model: Tiananmen, Today, Tomorrow,” from 12:00 – 2:30 pm at its office at 1025 F St, NW, 8th floor, Washington, DC 20004. The agenda features opening remarks by U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. One panel will feature a moderated conversation with the honorees, Dolkun Isa, Lhadon Tethong, and Bob Fu. A second panel about China’s export of repressive tactics and technology and activists’ efforts to resist the encroachment of authoritarian norms will feature expert analysis by Xiao Qiang of China Digital Times, Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch, and the Taiwanese civic tech activist known as Ttcat.

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

About the Honorees:
Founded in April 2004 in Munich, Germany, after the East Turkistan National Congress and the World Uyghur Youth Congress merged into one united organization, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) promotes democracy, human rights, and freedom for the Uyghur people and supports the use of peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to help Uyghurs achieve self-determination. WUC is the sole representative organization of the Uyghur people globally and has made crucial contributions in bringing attention to the CCP’s crushing campaign of physical, religious, linguistic, and cultural repression against the Uyghur people.

Founded in 2009, the Tibet Action Institute (TAI) brings together digital communication tools with strategic nonviolent action to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of the Tibet movement in a digital era. TAI’s team, comprised of technologists and human rights advocates, develops and advances open-source communication technologies, nonviolent strategies, and innovative training programs for Tibetans with a particular focus on digital security and harnessing the power of digital technologies.

Founded in 2002, ChinaAid is an international non-profit Christian human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China. Over the past 17 years, ChinaAid has worked to expose human rights abuses and promote truth, justice and freedom by advocating for religious freedom and the rule of law. ChinaAid advocates for the immediate release of prisoners of conscience, equips human rights defenders and religious and community leaders with religious freedom and rule of law training, rescues and resettles persecuted leaders and their families, provides financial assistance to families of political prisoners, and exposes abuse by reporting unique stories of persecution and injustice through its website and social media.

CONTACT: Jane Riley Jacobsen (202) 378-9604 w I (703) 801-5376 m I