"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."
“Documents show the court has denied his request to travel to the United States to receive the Lantos prize, an award from an American foundation honoring former House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Lantos. Prior recipients of the prize include Hillary Clinton, the Dalai Lama, and Elie Wiesel. Wong, whose activist work was the subject of a 2017 Netflix documentary, would have accepted the award in Washington next month had he been able to travel.”
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.”
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is proud to announce that our highest honor, the Lantos Human Rights Prize, will be awarded to Father Patrick Desbois, President and founder of the international human rights organization Yahad In-Unum. Father Desbois is being recognized as the 2017 Lantos Prize recipient for his unparalleled work in uncovering the lost stories of over one million victims of the “Holocaust by Bullets” period of World War II as well as his continuing fight against anti-Semitism and genocide throughout the world.
The Lantos Foundation will present their most distinguished prize at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 26, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol. Father Desbois joins a distinguished community of prior Lantos Laureates that includes the Dalai Lama, Hillary Clinton, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, and most recently Vian Dakhil (aka “ISIS’ Most Wanted”), who was recognized for her courageous defense of the Yazidi people. It is fitting that Father Desbois should receive the Prize the year following Ms. Dakhil, as he has been outspoken in defense of her Yazidi community - a 21st century victim of genocide at the hands of ISIS.
“At a time when anti-Semitic acts are surging globally, Father Desbois’ work is more important than ever,” said Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett. “Exposing the truth, honoring the victims, and memorializing these events are vital safeguards against a repetition of these horrors. But Father Desbois’ work is about more than rescuing and remembering the past. His truly universal calling is to act on behalf of all victims of mass violence, persecution, and murder. The Lantos Foundation is truly honored to recognize him for this noble mission.”
The Lantos Foundation established the Lantos Human Rights Prize in 2009 to honor and bring attention to heroes of the human rights movement. It is awarded annually to an individual or organization that best exemplifies the Foundation’s mission, namely to be a vital voice standing up for the values of decency, dignity, freedom, and justice in every corner of the world. The prize also serves to honor the memory and legacy of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress and a leading advocate for human rights during his nearly three decades as a U.S. Representative.