GENEVA, March 23, 2019 – An international coalition of 25 human rights organizations announced today that a prestigious international human rights award will go this year to Dhondup Wangchen, a former political prisoner and Tibetan filmmaker who exposed life under Chinese rule through a groundbreaking documentary.

The award ceremony will take place during this month’s 60th anniversary of a historic Tibetan rebellion against the Chinese Communist Party.

Wangchen’s interviews with Tibetans were smuggled out of Tibet and shown overseas in the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind.”

Following the release of the documentary, Wangchen was sentenced to six years in prison by Chinese authorities. Following his release, he was kept under heavy surveillance. In 2017, he fled Tibet and escaped to the United States, where he was granted asylum.

He will receive the 2019 Geneva Summit’s Courage Award at a ceremony on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, where he will address UN diplomats, human rights activists and journalists from around the world attending the 11th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, which opens for accredited UN delegates on Monday with an event at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva.

Before an estimated crowd of 800 attendees on Tuesday, Wangchen will turn an international spotlight on the plight of Tibetans living under Chinese rule.”Tibet is a prison,” said Wangchen. “Every year, the conditions get worse. More restrictions on traveling, practicing religion and culture, and severe limits on freedom of the press.”

Wangchen was chosen for his “heroic efforts to spotlight and sound the alarm about China’s grave violations of the human rights of the Tibetan people,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations Watch, a co-organizer of the conference together with Liberal International, Human Rights Foundation, and more than 20 other human rights groups.

Previous laureates of the Courage Award include jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, Venezuelan opposition leader Antonio Ledezma and Vladimir Kara-Murza, a leading dissident against Russia’s Putin regime.

Wangchen will join other courageous champions of human rights from around the world at this year’s Geneva Summit, including dissidents, activists, victims, and relatives of political prisoners from Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Burundi, Turkey, Venezuela, and Vietnam, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries. 

The annual conference will be held on the heels of the UN Human Rights Council’s main annual session, which concluded today by failing to adopt resolutions on any of these countries.

The Geneva Summit will showcase the voices of the world’s true human rights defenders.

“It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Neuer. 

The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.

Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, arbitrary detention, Internet freedom, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

One exhibit at the summit will showcase paintings of assassinated and imprisoned journalists, and another will display the faces of current human rights dissidents who are being held as political prisoners.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at www.genevasummit.org.

Admission to this year’s March 26 summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. For accreditation, program, and schedule information, visit www.genevasummit.org. The conference will also be available via live webcast.

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact us at media@genevasummit.org