- News and Notes
NED Democracy Award
On June 22, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to the people of Tunisia and Egypt who struggled and sacrificed for a democratic future.
The award was accepted by Jamel Bettaieb and Zahraa Said. Bettaieb is a Tunisian activist, teacher, and trade unionist from Sidi Bouzid, the hometown of Mohamed Bouazizi, whose death ignited Tunisia’s revolution. Said is the sister of Khaled Said, the young Egyptian blogger whose murder by the police in June 2010 led to the creation of the “We Are All Khalid Said” Facebook page that became a catalyst for Egypt’s revolution.
Remarks were presented at the ceremony by Undersecretary of State William J. Burns and congressmen Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Steve Chabot (R-OH).
Prior to the ceremony, both award recipients met with U.S. president Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
The award ceremony was preceded by a roundtable discussion entitled “Beyond the Arab Spring.” Participants included Jamel Bettaieb and Zahraa Said, as well as Hussain Abdullah of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain; Aly Abuzaakuk of the Libyan Human and Political Development Forum; Atiaf Al-Wazir, a Yemeni activist and blogger; Sahar Aziz of the Egyptian American Rule of Law Association; and Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian activist and visiting scholar at George Washington University. For more information, please see: www.ned.org/events/democracy-award/2011-democracy-award.
Voices From Congo
On July 26, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Eastern Congo Initiative, and NED [End Page 184] organized a conference entitled “Voices From Congo: The Road Ahead.” Panelists assessed the human-rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and discussed the challenges and opportunities related to the country’s upcoming November elections.
Participants included Scott Campbell of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Catherine Kathungu of the Association of Female Lawyers for the Rights of Women and Children, which promotes legal assistance to female and child victims of human-rights abuses in the DRC; and Donat M’Baya, founder of the Kinshasa-based Journalists in Danger, which promotes and defends freedom of the press.
At the concluding ceremony, Carl Gershman, president of NED, presented its Democracy Service Medal posthumously to Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, the late director of La Voix des Sans Voix in the DRC, who was killed in June 2010. His widow Annie Chebeya accepted the award on behalf of her late husband. For more information, please see: www.ned.org/events/voices-from-congo-the-road-ahead.
Vitali Silitski (1972–2011)
Vitali Silitski, former Reagan-Fascell Fellow and frequent Journal author from Belarus, passed away on June 11. Director of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Studies and a renowned political scientist, he produced more than a hundred publications on democratization and authoritarianism in the former Soviet space. In 2003, he was forced out of the European Humanities University in Minsk, where he had been an associate professor, after he openly criticized President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s government. A panel discussion on the future of Belarus, including a tribute to Vitali Silitski, was held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on September 8. Further details will be provided in the January issue of the Journal.
Elena Bonner (1923–2011)
Russian dissident and human-rights campaigner Elena Bonner passed away on June 18. She was the widow of dissident nuclear physicist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Andrei Sakharov. They were sent into internal exile in the isolated Soviet city of Gorky (Sakharov in 1980, Bonner in 1984), where they remained until 1986 when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev allowed them to return to Moscow. Following her husband’s death in 1989, Bonner divided her time between Moscow and the United States, while continuing to call for democratic reforms in Russia. She received NED’s Democracy Award in 1995.
Community of Democracies Ministerial Meeting
On July 1, the Community of Democracies held its sixth Ministerial [End Page 185] Meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, culminating a week of meetings and forums held by civil society representatives from around the world.
Heads of state, foreign ministers, high-level diplomats, and...