NED awards recognize contributions to democracy

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) on Thursday honored several individuals and organizations for their “extraordinary contributions” to freedom and democracy.

According to the NED, the awards are aimed at recognizing distinguished political leaders who champion the right of people to freely determine their own destiny. “The Democracy Service Medals will recognize extraordinary leaders defending democracy around the world,” the NED stated. “We will also pay tribute to the people of Venezuela.”

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was honored by the Central Tibetan Administration. She received the award from Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the leader of the administration.

During the event, Pelosi praised the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for its ongoing efforts to highlight injustices worldwide. “One of the cruelest tactics used by oppressors is to imprison people and make them disappear, hoping they will be forgotten. But we do not forget them. Our members of Congress, in a bipartisan manner, consistently raise their names—whether on the House floor, in meetings with heads of state, or during visits to other countries. We make sure these individuals are remembered, and their oppressors know that they are not forgotten,” Pelosi said.

Receiving the NED’s Democracy Service Medal, Evgenia Kara-Murza, Advocacy Coordinator at the Free Russia Foundation, said, “I don’t know how strong I am. I believe every person has a limit, I just haven’t reached mine yet.”

U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro presented the Democracy Service Medal to Sikyong Penpa Tsering for his leadership defending democracy and human rights on behalf of all Tibetans, according to NED’s account on X, formerly known as Twitter. Lhadon Tethong and Gyal Lo received the NED’s Democracy Award on behalf of the Tibet Action Institute.

“One of the things that the Tibet Action Institute did was to put the idea of Tibet sovereignty back on the map,” said NED Board member Peter Roskam while presenting the 2024 Democracy Award to the Tibet Action Institute.

Kateryna Rashevska received the Democracy Award on behalf of the Regional Center for Human Rights. “Too many dreams have been shattered and too many hopes have been extinguished. It must stop,” Rashevska told the gathering. “My greatest hope is that this will be the last time we will fight for the return of the abducted children to Ukraine.” The award was presented to her by U.S. Representative Joe Wilson.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen presented the Democracy Service Medal to the leader of Free Belarus, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, for her unparalleled leadership and personal sacrifice in defending democracy over authoritarianism.

The 2024 Democracy Award was also presented to Zahra Hayder, executive director of Waey Organization, by U.S. Representative Sara Jacobs.