On Thursday, December 9, Human Rights in China (HRIC) received a Defenders' Day Award from the International League for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization (NGO) devoted to strengthening international human rights institutions.
According to the International League for Human Rights, the award honors activists and groups that have courageously defended the rights of others while facing persecution themselves. It marks the first anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, on the eve of Human Rights Day. The declaration affirms that human rights defenders are entitled, individually or in groups, to promote and protect the rights of others.
Human Rights in China was chosen for the Defenders' Day Award in recognition for its decade-long struggle to promote human rights in China through its monitoring, advocacy and information dissemination. The selection of Human Rights in China also highlights the challenges that the organization overcomes to carry out its work. Specific focus was put on the denial of consultative status to HRIC--a status that allows NGOs to participate in certain U.N. meetings and activities--on June 4, 1999, the tenth anniversary of the 1989 Beijing Massacre.
HRIC's mission and methodology are guided by and in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all relevant U.N. human rights documents. However, the Chinese government led a politically-charged campaign to block approval of HRIC's consultative status application, which was reviewed by the U.N's Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.
Along with the harsh crackdown on human rights and democracy activists currently underway inside China, the denial of HRIC's application demonstrates China's hostility to human rights defenders, as well as serious flaws in the current structure and procedures of the U.N. Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. Bogus NGOs like the China Society for Human Rights Studies, which was set up by the Chinese government, are granted accreditation, while legitimate NGOs are routinely rejected.
"The Defenders' Day Award gives HRIC much appreciated support, encouraging us to pursue our mission of promoting human rights in the People's Republic," said Xiao Qiang, HRIC executive director. "We thank the International League for this great distinction. But the true honor belongs to the thousands of human rights defenders in China, many of whom are still behind prison bars."
Human Rights in China (HRIC) is the largest independent organization focused on monitoring an promoting human rights in the People's Republic of China. Founded in 1989 by a group of Chinese scientists and scholars, HRIC maintains offices in New York and Hong Kong.