- News and Notes
NED Democracy Awards
On May 29, days prior to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Awards to imprisoned Chinese democracy activists Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong.
Liu, who in 2010 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is serving an eleven-year prison sentence for his role in publishing Charter 08, a document calling for political reform and respect for human rights in China. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi accepted the award on Liu’s behalf.
Xu is one of the founders of the New Citizens’ Movement, an initiative that exhorts Chinese citizens to seek their rights as laid out in the Chinese Constitution. For his role in spearheading the movement, Xu was sentenced in January to four years in prison on charges of “gathering a crowd and disturbing public order.” Hua Ze, a documentary filmmaker, signatory of Charter 08, and friend of Xu, accepted the award on his behalf.
The event, held at the U.S. Congress, included the award of NED’s Democracy Service Medal to U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA). Congressmen Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Joe Pitts (R-PA) also spoke at the event.
Ukraine: Thinking Together
On May 15–19, Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic and Timothy Snyder, history professor at Yale University, organized a public conference in Kyiv entitled “Ukraine: Thinking Together.”
The conference featured panels on human rights, popular mobilization, the Maidan, the role of Europe and geopolitics, and the state of totalitarianism today. Lectures were presented by Snyder; French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy; Ivan Krastev of the [End Page 188] Centre for Liberal Strategies in Bulgaria; Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford; Croatian novelist Slavenka Drakulić; and Paul Berman of The New Republic.
The conference was supported by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a number of embassies and other international organizations, including NED.
Lech Wałęsa Solidarity Prize
On June 3 at a ceremony in Warsaw, Crimean Tatar leader and Ukrainian parliamentarian Mustafa Dzhemilev was awarded the inaugural Lech Wałęsa Solidarity Prize, an award established by the Polish Foreign Ministry in celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1989 Polish elections that marked the beginning of the country’s transition to democracy.
After attending a meeting in Kyiv, Dzhemilev was banned in April by local authorities from returning to his home in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March.
Authoritarian Abuse of International Institutions
On May 13, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) organized an event entitled “Safeguarding International Institutions Against Authoritarian Abuse.” During the event, Gerald Knaus of the European Stability Initiative and Jago Russell of Fair Trials International discussed recent reports by their organizations detailing manipulation of the Council of Europe and INTERPOL by autocratic states. Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal of the NHC discussed a similar dynamic in the UN Human Rights Council.
Bill Browder, organizer of the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky campaign, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, also made statements.
State of Democracy Studies
On April 24, Georgetown University’s Center for Democracy and Civil Society commemorated its tenth anniversary with a panel discussion entitled “The State of Democracy and Democracy Studies.”
The panel featured Daniel Brumberg and Eusebio Mujal-Léon, codirectors of the Center; Steven Heydemann, vice-president of applied research on conflict at the United States Institute of Peace; Thomas Carothers, vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Sharon Wolchik, professor of political science at George Washington University.
NED’s International Forum
On March 20, the Forum and the Center for International Media [End Page 189] Assistance hosted a discussion of Emily Parker’s Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices From the Internet Underground. Christian Caryl, editor of Democracy Lab, offered comments.
On April 10, the Forum hosted an event to celebrate the publication of Will China Democratize?, a Journal of Democracy book coedited by Andrew J. Nathan, Larry Diamond, and Marc F. Plattner. The event included a panel discussion featuring contributors Nathan (Columbia University), Minxin Pei (Claremont...