On Tuesday night, Chen Guangcheng received the Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize in Washington DC and delivered a 22-minute speech that was greeted with a standing ovation. Speaking at the National Cathedral, he called himself “lucky” to have received “care and kindness from people around the world” despite the persecution he faced at home; he talked about his fellow activists still imprisoned, and called human rights “inseparable from political reform”; and addressing the US government, he urged it to “continue unwaveringly from your basic principles of democracy.” The website Save Tibet has a full transcription of Chen’s speech. He ended by channeling his inner Michael Jackson: “Let’s work together to make this world a better place!”
According to the Lantos Foundation’s website, “In an effort to draw attention to human rights violations across the globe and to alert the media and governments to the importance of making human rights a priority on equal footing with other policy decisions, the Lantos Human Rights Prize is awarded annually to raise awareness about human rights violations and the individuals committed to fighting them throughout the world.”
Tom Lantos was the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress. He died in February 2008, with one of his final wishes being the creation of a non-profit to carry out his work.
Other winners of the Lantos Human Rights Prize include the Dalai Lama in 2009. China does not recognize the Lantos Human Rights Prize.
For more on Chen Guangcheng, here’s a video of a recent interview he conducted with PBS’s Ray Suarez. The transcript is on PBS’s website.
(Image via James Fallows)