At the opening ceremony of the 13th Interethnic Interfaith Leadership Conference held in Room Rayburn HOB on the morning of December 10, the international human rights day, its host, Citizen Power Initiatives for China (CPIFC), honored three outstanding human rights champions with its 2018 Citizen Power Awards. The honorees are Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Ms. Mihrigul Tursun and Mr. Bao Tong.
Congressmen Jim McGovern and Chris Smith and Mr. Carl Gershman, president of National Endowment for Democracy, presented the 2018 Citizen Power Award trophies to the three honorees respectively.
The following is the award tribute to Mr. Bao Tong and his written acceptance speech.
CPIFC Tribute to Mr. Bao Tong
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, it is with great respect and deep gratitude that we present the 2018 Citizen Power Award to Mr. Bao Tong, in recognition of his decades-long contribution to building democracy in China, and the personal sacrifices he has made toward achieving a peaceful transition of China's political system and support for its civil society.
The June 4, 1989 Tiananmen massacre of protestors was a tragedy of modern China, and a personal disaster for Mr. Bao Tong himself. In the 1980s, Mr. Bao Tong was the primary assistant of Zhao Ziyang who as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and who was also one of the few open-minded leaders of the Party. Bao Tong contributed greatly to supporting Mr. Zhao's attempts to reform the Chinese political system. During the 1989 student democracy movement, he sympathized with the students and opposed the government's violent oppression of the students. For this reason, after the massacre, he was sentenced to seven years in prison, and has been under house arrest and close surveillance since his release from prison.
However, Mr. Bao Tong does not regret losing his government position, nor is he discouraged by the setbacks of Chinese political reform. For years, he has continued to speak out as a citizen. He has advocated for human rights, and has bravely challenged China's suppression of civil society. Indeed, it seems that with every setback, the more emboldened he becomes; he never retreats, always displaying his tremendous willpower and moral character.
Mr. Bao Tong's consistent sincerity is the embodiment of China's conscience. He has greatly encouraged and inspired all of us. Mr. Bao Tong has not only been a witness to the tremendous tides that have swept China's modern history, he has been a force for good. We are honored to walk side-by-side with Mr. Bao in the right direction of history, and we will surely arrive at our destination. Today, we pay high tribute to Mr. Bao Tong by presenting him with the Citizen Power Award.
Bao Tong's Written Acceptance Speech
Thanks be to Citizen Power Initiatives for China, and thank you Mr. Jianli Yang, thank you everyone! Thank you for your encouragement. Civil society is your pursuit and mine as well. I want to be a citizen in a civil society. I don't want to be a slave in the slave society, nor a slave owner who dominates others. Everyone who is neither willing to be a slave nor a slave owner is my fellow comrades. Roads are made by many travelers. Our road is still very long and we need to continue our journey together.
Thank you again!