"I can’t help but feel that Lantos would be saddened to see the dire situation facing Hong Kong in the aftermath of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in which I and so many others participated."
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is proud to announce that our highest honor, the Lantos Human Rights Prize, will be awarded in 2018 to Joshua Wong, a charismatic leader of the Hong Kong movement for democracy and human rights.
Joshua Wong has received worldwide recognition and admiration as the teenager who dared to take on China in a fight for the democratic future of his beloved Hong Kong. Named by both Time Magazine and Fortune to their lists of the most influential leaders in the world, Joshua has become a target for persecution and imprisonment as a result of his determination to fight for a free future for Hong Kong. Part of Joshua’s story was chronicled in “Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower” which won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and is currently available on Netflix.
In recent years, China has been slowly tightening the noose on political, educational, and cultural institutions in Hong Kong despite a treaty commitment to allow Hong Kong to maintain its independent and democratic system while legally part of China.
At the age of only 14, Joshua founded the Scholarism movement to fight against the introduction of a program of communist indoctrination in the Hong Kong school system. Against all odds, Mr. Wong’s tiny group of activists swelled to over 100,000 peaceful protestors, galvanized in large measure by Joshua’s personal passion and his electrifying oratory.
After achieving an improbable victory in the fight for educational integrity in Hong Kong, Mr. Wong became a key leader in the democratic Umbrella movement and one of the founders of the Demosisto Party which advocates for Hong Kong’s autonomy and right to self-determination. Joshua is now facing likely imprisonment for his charismatic leadership of these movements.
Lantos Foundation President Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett said in a statement regarding the 2018 Lantos Prize:
“Joshua Wong, despite his youth, has shown remarkable clarity of vision in fighting against China’s encroaching stranglehold on Hong Kong and its institutions. Few have been willing to take on the aggressive Chinese Goliath, but this young “David” has stepped forward to engage in this battle with uncommon courage and idealism. The Lantos Foundation is proud to honor Joshua, and we call on the government of Hong Kong to allow him to travel to the US Congress to receive this well-deserved award.”
Upon learning of his selection for the Lantos Prize, Mr. Wong issued the following statement:
“It is a true honor to be awarded the 2018 Lantos Prize. By the time of the award ceremony, I will probably be back behind bars for protesting against Beijing’s authoritarian regime. Alas, civil disobedience has never been risk free but one must fight for what one believes in. Rest assured these challenges have only made me and my fellow activists stronger in our beliefs and more courageous in our convictions. It is an honor for me to accept this prestigious Lantos Prize in the name of the millions of Hongkongers who decided to stand up against the false façade of democracy and to take their destiny into their own hands.”