Known to many of his countrymen as "the barefoot lawyer," Chen was born in the village of Dongshigu in 1972. Blind since infancy, illiterate until his late teens, he nonetheless taught himself law and became a fiery advocate for tens of thousands of Chinese who had no voice. His escape from his jailers in China made headlines around the world, and he remains uncompromising in his commitment to democracy and human rights.  

Chen's remarks were delivered in Mandarin and read in English by actor, social activist, and member of the Lantos Foundation Advisory Board, Richard Gere.

“Chen Guangcheng’s work standing up for the rule of law in China has been an inspiration to people from around the world. Today, we honor Chen’s contribution to the global struggle for human rights and his resolve in the face of China’s brutal crackdown on him and his family. The Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize was established to continue my father’s lifelong efforts to lift up defenders of human rights and shine an international spotlight on those who would tear them down. Chen Guangcheng embodies that fierce resolve to continue fighting for the values of decency, dignity, freedom and justice we hold so dear.” - Katrina Lantos Swett

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