Dr. Yang Jianli, president of Initiatives for China, was awarded the 2012 Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award by UN Watch in the presence of more than 150 ambassadors, UN officials, and human rights activists.

The inscription of the award reads: “For his brave deeds and inspiring words to advance the cause of freedom in China and defend universal human rights, United Nations Watch presents its 2012 Morris B.Abram HUman Rights Award to Dr.Yang Jianli.”

“Dr. Yang is a survivor of the Tiananmen Square who has devoted his life to helping his brothers and sisters in distress, and to advancing the cause of human rights for all,” said UN Watch director Hillel Neuer. “He spent five years in prison for defending democracy and helping victims. Dr. Yang is a role model for activists, dissident and concerned citizens everywhere.”

Dr. Yang currently resides in the U.S. where he heads the Initiatives for China activist group. He accepted the award “on behalf of the great multitude of victims of human rights abuse, in China and elsewhere.”

“A government that systematically deprives its citizens of human rights is inherently unstable,” said Yang in his acceptance speech, adding that such regimes constitute a threat to the stability of the whole world. Click here for full speech.

Addressing an audience that included the UN delegates from a dozen nations, including the US, France, Canada, South Korea and Honduras, Yang said that China’s government “systematically and routinely imprisons, tortures and exiles its best and brightest, for no other reason than exercising the right to speak freely.”

China pursues “cultural genocide on the Tibetan, Uyghur and Mongolian peoples,” and institutes “foreign policies and models of repression that enable the morally bankrupt regimes of North Korea, Iran and Syria to suck the freedoms and dignities from their people.”

The UN Watch prize honors the legacy of the late Morris Abram, a legendary U.S. civil rights advocate, lawyer, activist, community leader and diplomat. Born in the American South, Abram founded UN Watch in 1993, after representing the U.S. at the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva.