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CEPOS Freedom Award

CEPOS Freedom Award 2012

The 21st of May 2013 the Danish think tank CEPOS awards the annual Freedom Prize of 60,000 USD.

CEPOS Freedom Award 2012 goes to the well-known Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam.

Already by late December 2012, CEPOS decided that the annual Freedom Prize of U.S. $ 60,000 would be awarded to Ali Abdulemam for his many years of struggle for the right to express criticism of the regime he grew up in and especially his defence of human rights and democracy . Earlier this month, it was announced that the well-known Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam had successfully fled from his homeland after living underground since 2011. Thus, it has only now become possible for Abdulemam to come to Denmark to receive the award at CEPOS on 21 May.

"Ali Abdulemam is not just a brave man who paid a very high price for following his conscience and defending freedom and democracy. In a world where the Arab revolt has resulted in disturbing religious extremism and sectarian violence, Abdulemam is also a crucial symbol that there are voices in the Middle East for whom what matters is not whether you are Shiite or Sunni, Christian or Muslim, but that all people have basic human rights that must be respected regardless of religious or ethnic background. Therefore, Ali is a more than deserving recipient of the CEPOS Freedom Prize" says Director of Legal Affairs, Jacob Mchangama, CEPOS.

Ali Abdulemam, originally trained as a computer engineer, started the pro-democracy news forum "BahrainOnline.org" in 1998 and, because of his early involvement in the blogosphere, is known as 'the blog-father'. Because of his fearless and principled defence of human rights and democracy, Ali Abdulemam has been repeatedly imprisoned. In 2011, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia because of his political activities.

In April 2013, Abdulemam managed to flee from Bahrain, hidden in a secret compartment in a car. Abdulemam was driven across the border into Saudi Arabia and on to Kuwait, where fishermen sailed him to Iraq. From here he could fly to London, where he immediately got asylum. You can read the BBC's description of the story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22489114

CEPOS Freedom Award is sponsored by CEPOS Chairman Bjorn Høi Jensen, an MSc in Economics. and board member of Rockwool International, amongst others.

CEPOS (Center for Political Studies) is an independent Danish think tank promotion a society based on freedom, responsibility, private initiative and limited government.

Press contact:
Director of Communications Louise Stenstrup, louise@remove-this.cepos.dk, +45 26703774
Director of Legal Affairs Jacob Mchangama, jacob@remove-this.cepos.dk, +45 24664220


Watch Ali Abdulemam's speech at CEPOS Freedom Award 2012



CEPOS’ Freedom Award 2011 goes to the Chinese-born dissident Yang Jianli along with $60,000

The Danish think tank CEPOS awarded Chinese-born dissident Yang Jianli the 2011 Freedom Award for his dedicated and tireless effort for human rights in China. Jianli holds two Ph.D degrees—from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley—and is founder of the pro-democracy organizations Initiatives for China and Foundations for China in the 21st Century.

Born and raised in Northern China, Jianli was originally a member of the Communist Party of China where he had a promising future. Appalled by the corruption of the party’s elite, he chose to study political economy in USA, but returned to China in 1989 to support the Tiananmen Square protests. Shocked by the brutality he witnessed, Jianli escaped China to return to USA.

Jianli returned to China in 2002. Upon arrival he was apprehended and sentenced to five years imprisonment for “espionage”. While in prison he was subjected to physical and psychological torture. It was not until August 2007 that he was allowed to return to his wife and children in America. Today he is barred from entering China. In spite of great personal costs Jianli has chosen to continue the fight for human rights and democracy in China.

Jianli has won several awards and is regarded as a preeminent Chinese human rights activist. He resides in Boston with his wife and two children and teaches at Harvard University.

“China has come far with regard to fighting poverty and creating wealth for hundreds of millions of people; an important accomplishment whereby China, as opposed to Cuba and North Korea, has created new opportunities for its population. However, China’s rising wealth is sharply contrasted by the lack of individual freedom and the rule of law, from which the Chinese are still suffering,” said Jacob Mchangama, CEPOS director of legal affairs. “As China’s role as a superpower increases, it is important for the free world to demand that China treats its citizens with dignity and respect and to object every time China violates fundamental human rights and uses censorship, arbitrary detention and torture against dissidents. Yang Jianli has paid a high price for his principled and uncompromising defense of democracy and freedom and thereby represents a different path for China,” said Mchangama.

“Instead of appreciating Yang Jianli’s great talent and conscientious disposition, Beijing has made him a pariah,” continued Mchangama. “Authoritarian behavior will in the long run undermine China’s continued growth and by awarding Yang Jianli with the CEPOS Freedom Award, we make our modest contribution to convincing the Chinese regime that freedom and prosperity are not opposites but rather go hand in hand.”

The CEPOS Freedom Award will be presented this evening to Yang Jianli in person at an arrangement at Royal Copenhagen, Denmark.

CEPOS’ Freedom award goes to the Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez along with DKK 300,000

CEPOS, An independent Danish think tank, has instituted an annual freedom award. This year, the  prize will  be awarded  to the Cuban dissident, Yoani Sánchez who, through her blog ’Generación Y’, demands the right to exercise her  freedom of speech when  criticizing the current conditions in Cuba. By doing so, Yoani risks facing imprisonment for years, a fate experienced by   other Cubans who have dared to utter the mildest critique of the  Communist regime.

“Despite the huge personal costs, Yoani Sánchez has shown amazing courage by expressing her honest and personal opinion of the society she currently lives in. Single-handedly and at great personal expense, she has managed to keep focus on one of the world’s most suffocating dictatorships. CEPOS wishes to show admiration of her courage and dedication by awarding her this prize.”,said  CEPOS Director, Martin Ågerup, who met with Sanchéz in Cuba this week.

In 2007 Yoani Sánchez started writing her blog ‘Generación Y’ which quickly gained so much  attention -  both locally and globally -   that the Cuban government decided to block access to the blog from all public computers in Cuba. Yet thanks to the World Wide Web, Yoani Sánchez’ words and thoughts haven’t been hushed; moreover each one of her blog contributions is  continuously translated by volunteers into over 15 different languages. 

Yoani Sánchez activism has meant that she is relegated to a life of scrutiny and harassment at the hands of the Cuban authorities. She doesn’t hold a real job, but manages to support herself by periodically working as a translator for German tourists. Ordinary Cubans do not have access to the internet, so when she started blogging, she had to buy access to the Internet through hotels where foreign tourists stay. The price for a single hour online corresponds to a quarter of one month’s salary for a normal Cuban. 

Yoani Sánchez warns against seeing her blog as an evidence of freedom of expression in Cuba.

“On the contrary, it should be more seen as an act of rebellion. Yet with neither  the prevalence of freedom of speech nor that of  a technologic infrastructure, it has still been possible to communicate with the outside world”.

CEPOS has invited Yoani Sánchez to Copenhagen to attend the award ceremony in the near future.

“Sanchéz has on earlier occasions been denied an exit permit, including to this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway, but this time she both hopes and expects that the Cuban authorities will let her come to Denmark in order to accept the award in person”, Martin Ågerup concludes.

Read Yoani Sánchez' blog HERE.