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Three distinguished Tibetans to be honoured for freedom and democracy

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(L-R) Sikyong Penpa Tsering, well-known activist Lhadon Tethong and esteemed educationist Dr. Gyal Lo are to be honoured by NED at its annual event

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, June 5: The United States government funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has announced it will honour three distinguished figures in the Tibetan community for their relentless contributions to freedom and democracy. At the upcoming annual ward event on June 13, well-known Tibetan activist Lhadon Tethong, and Tibetan educationist turned activist Dr. Gyal Lo is set to receive the 2024 Democracy Award, while the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) President Penpa Tsering will be awarded the 2024 Democracy Service Medal. 

“This year, the NED Democracy Awards will pay tribute to courageous partners from Sudan, Tibet, and Ukraine who are defending the rights of vulnerable children and young people by seeking accountability, documenting repression, and building grassroots movements. The Democracy Service Medals will recognise extraordinary leaders defending democracy around the world,” the statement read. 

Under the category of “Documenting Repression: Chinese Communist Party Attempts to Erase Tibetan Identity,” Lhadon Tethong, Co-Founder/Director of Tibet Action Institute (TAI), and esteemed educationist Dr. Gyal Lo will be honored with the 2024 Democracy Award. Their ground-breaking report, titled “Separated from their Families, Hidden from the World,” shed light on the mass system of China’s colonial boarding schools in Tibet, revealing the plight of over a million Tibetan children subjected to separation from their families and cultural assimilation into Han Chinese.

President Penpa Tsering of the CTA will receive the 2024 Democracy Service Medal. Tsering has dedicated his life to the Tibetan movement, advocating for the rights and freedom of Tibetans both within Tibet and in the diaspora. Before assuming the presidency, Tsering served as the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and held various other important positions within the Tibetan community. His leadership has been characterised by a steadfast commitment to democracy, human rights, and the preservation of Tibetan culture and identity.

The Democracy Award, an esteemed recognition presented annually by the NED Board of Directors, serves as a tribute to individuals and organisations showcasing exceptional courage and innovation in advancing human rights and democracy on a global scale. A notable aspect of the Democracy Award is its symbolic representation. The award itself is fashioned as a replica of the Goddess of Democracy, a poignant and iconic symbol from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China. 

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