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NED Honors Chinese Rights Activists


Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing, China, (File photo).

The National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Congress funded non-profit organization, recently honored imprisoned Chinese rights activists Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong with the Democracy Award 2014.

The National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Congress funded non-profit organization, recently honored imprisoned Chinese rights activists Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong with the Democracy Award 2014. The award is given annually to recognize the courageous and creative work of individuals and organizations that have advanced the cause of human rights and democracy around the world.

Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11 year prison sentence for his critical writing and role in launching Charter 08. The declaration, calling for an end to the Communist Party's political dominance and human rights, published in 2008 quickly garnered over 10,000 signatures from throughout China. Liu Xiaobo also worked as editor of Democratic China magazine for several years until his arrest. In 2010, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese to win the Nobel Peace Prize. His wife remains under house arrest.

Award recipient Xu Zhiyong is a Chinese rights advocate and former law lecturer who has been outspoken in support of the Tibetan people. He cofounded the Open Constitution Initiative, an independent center, which brought together, rights lawyers, liberal intellectuals, journalists, and citizen activists to work for rule of law in China from 2006-2009.

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 was sentenced to four years in prison in January 2014 after a closed door trial found him guilty of "gathering a crowd and disturbing public order."

Speaking at the NED awards ceremony, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski said, "A strong and confident country does not fear [people like Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhihong]; it sees them as a source of strength. In this spirit we urge Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong and other members of the New Citizens Movement, and to guarantee the Chinese people the internationally recognized rights and freedoms that all people deserve."
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