Russian opposition leader poisoned 2x for promoting democracy and
Chinese poet, widow of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiabo,
accept awards despite death threats
Washington, DC, October 22, 2018 — Current and former senior policymakers from the White House, State Department and thought leaders from think tanks, human rights groups and the media will gather for the Oxi Courage Awards at the US Institute of Peace on Thursday, October 25 at 6:30pm to recognize individuals, honored for their courage to promote freedom and democracy in the face of tyranny and oppression, terrorism and hate.
The awards are presented in the spirit of the Greek Oxi Day, (pronounced OH-hee) which is celebrated in the birthplace of democracy. Just as the Greeks said “oxi!” or “no!” to invading Axis forces during World War II, an act of resistance and resilience that ultimately turned the tide on the outcome of the war and led to Hitler’s defeat, these honorees have displayed similar courage in the face of danger and David vs. Goliath struggle.
“We are grateful to the Oxi Day Foundation for creating an award that links brave freedom fighters in the world today to the example set by the Greeks in 1941 when they answered the Nazi demand for surrender with a defiant and courageous NO!” said President of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman. “By creating the Oxi Courage Award they have found a way to give voice to the voiceless and hope for people fighting for freedom in some of the darkest corners of the world.”
Vladimir Kara-Murza, recipient of the Oxi Courage Award. Vice President of Open Russia and leading activist for a civil society and democracy in Russia, Kara-Murza has been poisoned twice by his enemies and survived against all odds. He was elected to the Coordinating Council of the Russian Opposition in 2012, and served as deputy leader of the People’s Freedom Party from 2015 to 2016. The author of two documentaries, They Chose Freedom and Nemtsov, Kara-Murza started his career as a journalist. He currently acts as Senior Fellow to the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and recently served as a pall bearer at Senator John McCain’s funeral. (Mr. Kara-Murza will be present at the event)
Liu Xia, recipient of the Oxi Courage Award, is the widow of China’s most prominent human rights advocate, Nobel Laureate, Liu Xiabo. Liu Xia was recently freed in July 2018 after serving 8 years of confinement on house arrest despite having no charges leveled against her. She is a Chinese painter, poet and photographer.
Liu Xia met her husband Liu Xiaobo while they were both part of the Beijing literary scene in the 1980s. The two married while he was imprisoned in China in a labor re-education camp in 1996. Liu Xia prefers to lead the solitary life; however, she has been described as her husband’s “most important link to the outside world.” In that role, she also personally experiences pressures from Chinese authorities for publicly voicing opinions.
Since his arrest and death, she has lived under constant surveillance. From the time of their marriage, during his several terms in prison, she has continued to speak out, although somewhat reluctantly, on issues of human rights both on her own and on his behalf. (Please note: Liu Xia will not be present at the event, she traveled to New York on September 28 to accept the award from Oxi Day Foundation leadership and the presentation will be shown via video)
“These are exemplary stories of the modern day David vs Goliath,” said Andy Manatos, Founder and President of the Oxi Day Foundation. “Our honorees are heroes who stood up to crimes against humanity and through their tireless efforts, they shone a spotlight on injustices. Historically, the Oxi Courage Awards event has brought to light the brave actions of these valiant revolutionaries before they are recognized by an even larger audience.”
Past recipients include:
- 2017: North Korean defector and human rights activist Ji Seong-howho 3 months later featured in the State of the Union address
- 2016: Vice President Joseph R. Biden and son Beau Biden (posthumously)
- 2016: Escaped ISIS sex slave, UN Goodwill Ambassador and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nadia Murad (nominated by Amal Clooney)
- 2015: Leading human rights activist imprisoned in Azerbaijan Leyla Yunus (nominated and introduced by Bono)
- 2014: Journalist James Foley, just weeks after becoming the first American executed by ISIS. (President Bill Clinton introduced Foley and Jim’s parents accepted the award)
- 2013: Journalist John Githongo, who risked his life fighting corruption in Kenya. (nominated and introduced by Bono)
- 2012: Blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng whose US-aided escape from China led the world news in the spring of 2012
To see highlights from the 2016 gala, please click here.
To watch the story of Oxi Day, please click here.