Lantos Foundation Announces Affiliation with Human Rights Activist Chen Guangcheng

Chinese Dissident to be Senior Advisor on Internet Freedom and Human Rights for People with Disabilities

The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice was enormously proud to award Chen Guangcheng the 2012 Lantos Prize – our Foundation’s highest honor.

This distinguished award is presented each year to a global figure who has shown extraordinary courage and leadership in the struggle for human rights. Mr. Chen was a particularly worthy recipient of the Lantos Prize. In the face of threats, persecution, and imprisonment, Guangcheng has demonstrated truly remarkable tenacity. His advocacy has spanned the spectrum of human rights concerns in China - encompassing the rights of persons with disabilities, environmental protection, women’s rights, democracy promotion, and internet freedom.

Like our founder, the late Congressman Tom Lantos, the breadth of Mr. Chen's human rights leadership, and the fearless way he has taken on critical human rights causes, regardless of the odds is admirable. 

These two men share another quality in common-fierce independence. Anyone who knew Tom Lantos understood that he was always his own man.  These brave human rights leaders are kindred spirits. Congressman Lantos never hesitated to make common cause with his colleagues of the right and the left when it was in defense of human rights. Tom Lantos passionately believed that the fight for human rights transcends the more prosaic political battles that occupy so much of our attention and rather than let ideological differences derail his advocacy for universal rights, he viewed human rights work as an opportunity to bring people together on the common ground of our shared values.  Chen Guangcheng embodies a similar spirit of independence and inclusion.

While Chen Guangcheng has become an icon of the global human rights movement, he is also an active leader and voice on behalf of literally tens of millions of Chinese citizens who are seeking to exercise the most basic freedoms of speech, conscience, assembly, and self-government. The Lantos Foundation is grateful that he has had the opportunity to pursue his work through NYU and we welcome his decision to continue this work at Catholic University and the Witherspoon Institute. We are also pleased to announce that Mr. Chen will bring his expertise and deep understanding to the Lantos Foundation where he will join us as a Distinguished Senior Advisor focused on Internet freedom and human rights for people with disabilities. We would also like to announce that later this fall Guangcheng will be a guest lecturer at the Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at the UNH School of Law. We look forward to this and future collaborations.