- News and Notes
NED Democracy Awards
At a July 16 ceremony on Capitol Hill, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its annual Democracy Award to four advocates for human rights in North Korea: Benjamin Yoon, founder of the Seoul-based Citizen's Alliance for North Korean Human Rights; and Sun Ok Lee, An Hyuk, and Chul Hwan Kang, survivors of the North Korean gulag. The honorees work to focus world attention on the human rights crisis in North Korea, expose the country's prison-labor system, and assist North Korean refugees who have fled persecution and starvation. The awards were presented by U.S. senator Sam Brownback.
The ceremony was preceded by a conference entitled "Gulag, Famine, and Refugees: The Urgent Human Rights Crisis in North Korea," which was cosponsored by the Defense Forum Foundation and the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. The keynote speakers were Senator Jon Kyl and Andrew Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. A roundtable on the North Korean refugee crisis was moderated by Congressman Ed Royce and Baroness Cox of Britain's House of Lords. It included members of the International Parliamentarians' Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights and Congressmen Joseph Pitts, Eliot Engel, and Curt Weldon. A panel discussion on documenting the North Korean gulag featured Debra Liang-Fenton and David Hawk of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History; and Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the UN.
For more information on this event, please visit www.ned.org.
Vietnamese Dissident Sentenced
In an August 26 appeal trial, the Hanoi Supreme Court reduced Vietnamese dissident and journalist [End Page 187] Pham Hong Son's sentence on espionage charges from 13 to five years in prison (followed by three years of house arrest upon release). The initial sentence, handed down in a half-day closed trial held on June 18, was one of the harshest verdicts to be imposed on a journalist anywhere in the world in recent years.
The April 10 indictment of Son states that he "became a follower of the action plan to take advantage of freedom and democracy to advocate pluralism and a multiparty system in order to oppose the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam." A medical doctor by training, Son was arrested by police on 27 March 2002 and detained until the time of his trial; he stood accused of translating and circulating documents promoting democracy and human rights through email and the Internet. Son had translated an article entitled "What Is Democracy?" available on the U.S. State Department website (http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/whatsdem), and sent it to friends and senior Vietnamese officials. He was also charged with writing articles in Vietnamese advocating pluralism, democracy, and a multiparty system, which were posted on democracy-promotion forums on the Internet.
Son's wife was denied the right to visit her husband and allowed to attend the trials only as a testifying witness. Diplomats from the United States, Canada, Australia, and several European states were prevented from sending observers despite having previously registered requests to attend. Journalists were also barred from the trial.
New Publication on Democracy in the Caucasus
A new journal dedicated to fostering public dialogue about democracy in the Caucasus, entitled Pomegranate: Democracy & Diversity in the Caucasus, recently published its pilot issue. Pomegranate will focus on issues of democracy building and serve as both a platform for organizations or individuals to share information on their democracy-promotion activities and as a forum for experts and activists to address current conceptual and policy-related debates. Pomegranate is supported by International IDEA and can be accessed through its web site at www.idea.int/southcaucasus/pomegranate/JOD_eng.pdf.
Public Opinion Workshop
On July 21-22, the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University's Institute for International Studies sponsored a workshop on "How People View Democracy: Public Opinion in New Democracies." Representatives of the four continental democracy barometers—the New Europe Barometer, the Afrobarometer, the Latinobarometer, and the East Asia Barometer—presented overviews of their surveys...