News and Notes

Issue Date July 1999
Volume 10
Issue 3
Page Numbers 187-190
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Remembering Tiananmen Square

To mark the tenth anniversary of China’s June 4th massacre, Wang Dan, exiled former student leader of the Tiananmen Square protests, has launched a Global Petition Campaign. The petition calls on the Chinese government to reevaluate the official verdict on the 1989 prodemocracy protests, to bring to justice all those responsible for the human rights violations committed, to review the cases of all political prisoners and release all prisoners of conscience, and to respect international human rights covenants. The Global Petition Campaign has been endorsed by a number of prominent individuals and human rights and labor organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in China, International PEN, and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The Campaign’s website can be accessed at

Within China, a group of survivors and family members of those killed in 1989 at Tiananmen Square submitted a legal petition on May 17 to China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate requesting a criminal investigation into the massacre. Evidence submitted as part of the petition included 27 signed testimonies detailing the circumstances in which victims were killed or injured, along with a list of 155 people who died and 65 who were wounded. The petition argues that the actions of the martial law troops constituted crimes under Chinese law, including premeditated murder and intentional injury, and it calls on the Procuratorate to investigate the responsibility not only of the troops who committed the crimes but also of those who gave them orders, including former premier Li Peng. A special report on “Crimes Against Humanity: Victim Testimonies of the Beijing Massacre, 1989–1999” is available at the Human Rights in China website at[End Page 187]

NED Honors Nigerian Organization

On May 25 in Washington, D.C., the National Endowment for Democracy presented its 1999 Democracy Award to Nigeria’s Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of more than 60 Nigerian civic organizations. The TMG monitored the preelection period, organized voter education campaigns, and trained and mobilized almost 11,000 independent observers for election day.

The Award was accepted by Clement Nwankwo, chairman of the TMG’s coordinating committee. Also present from the TMG were Abdul Oroh and Aaron Gana. Speakers included Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, Sen. Richard Lugar, Rep. Benjamin Gilman, and Rep. Edward Royce. The award was presented by Rep. Donald Payne, who stated: “If Nigeria is to meet the awesome challenge of building a democratic system that is lawful, just, transparent, and genuinely inclusive of all ethnic and religious groups, it will depend in no small measure on the continued work of the TMG and the thousands of devoted Nigerian democrats who have already sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom.”

Open Singapore Centre Established

On May 20, two Singaporean opposition leaders, Joshua B. Jeyaretnam (head of the Workers’ Party) and Chee Soon Juan (head of the Singapore Democratic Party), announced the founding of the Open Singapore Centre. They characterized the Centre as Singapore’s first nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization dedicated to promoting transparency and accountability and to strengthening political and civil rights. The new organization’s mission statement outlined the following goals: “To promote transparency and accountability in government and nongovernment institutions including the business sector; to secure for Singaporeans the right to information; to encourage greater participation and civic awareness among the people on national issues; to establish greater communication with and among Singaporeans living, studying or working overseas; and to interact with like-minded organizations within and outside of Singapore to work together for greater openness.” For further information, contact the Centre at

Global Electoral Organization Meets

On April 11–14, regional associations of election officers from around the globe met in Ottawa for the first Global Electoral Organization (GEO) Network Conference, aimed at fostering the growing movement toward cooperation in international electoral assistance, the setting of universal standards in election administration, and the sharing of experiences among [End Page 188] election practitioners. Conference participants included representatives of associations of election officials, international organizations, bilateral development assistance agencies, and others interested in strengthening electoral processes. The conference, hosted by Elections Canada, was sponsored by the Washington-based International Foundation for Election Systems, the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division.

NED Tribute to Walêsa and Kirkland

On April 23, in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Polish “roundtable” talks that led to the end of totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its first Democracy Service Medals to former Solidarity leader and Polish president Lech Wałęsa and former AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland. Under Kirkland’s leadership, the AFL-CIO provided crucial assistance to Solidarity during its years in the underground. At the ceremony in Washington, D.C., Zbigniew Brzezinski presented the award to Wa~êsa, while William Safire (stepping in for Henry Kissinger, whose plane was delayed due to thunderstorms) presented Kirkland’s award, which was received on his behalf by his wife Irena. Opening remarks were given by NED president Carl Gershman and by Jan Nowak, Polish wartime hero and diaspora leader.

Conference on Protracted Transitions

On May 19–21, El Colegio de México’s Center for International Studies held an international conference in Mexico City on “Pathways to Democracy: Specifying Protracted Transitions.” The participants sought to find commonalities among transitions to democracy that do not fit the models generated by the many abrupt transitions in South America and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. North American and Mexican scholars presented papers on cases of protracted transition in Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, South Korea, and Taiwan. Conference organizers Todd A. Eisenstadt and Reynaldo Y. Ortega Ortíz will edit a volume based on the conference for future publication in both Spanish and English.

Report on NED’s International Forum

On March 18, the International Forum and the African Studies Program of the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, cosponsored a half-day meeting on “The 1999 Elections and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria.” The conference, held at SAIS in Washington, D.C., featured a number of [End Page 189] observers of the February 1999 Nigerian elections, as well as scholars and other experts on democratic development in Nigeria. The first session, on “Assessing the Elections: How Free and Fair?” included presentations by Chris Fomunyoh (National Democratic Institute), Robert LaGamma (Carter Center), William Zartman (SAIS), Gwendolyn Mikell (Georgetown University), and Lloyd Pierson (International Republican Institute). The second session, on “Prospects for Democracy in Nigeria,” included presentations by Larry Diamond (International Forum for Democratic Studies), Peter Lewis (American University), Clement Nwankwo (Transition Monitoring Group, Nigeria), Peter Ekeh (SUNY, Buffalo), and Rotimi Suberu (University of Ibadan, Nigeria). Congressman Donald Payne (D-N.J.) delivered a luncheon address. A report on the meeting is in preparation.

On April 16, the Forum and the Russian and Eurasian Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace cosponsored a half-day meeting on “What Went Wrong In Russia?” The meeting, held at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C., sought to assess why Russia has arrived at an economic crisis and a debilitated democracy, and what might be done to improve its prospects. Presentations were offered by eight of the contributors to a symposium of the same title that appeared in the April 1999 issue of the Journal. They were joined by Nadia Diuk of NED.

The Forum recently held two luncheon seminars featuring Forum visiting fellows. On May 13, Jeffrey C. Gallup spoke on “The 1998 Cambodian Elections: A Step Toward Democracy or War by Other Means?” On June 3, Ladan Boroumand spoke on “Civil Society in Iran: Illusion and Reality.” French political theorist Pierre Manent was scheduled to speak on June 16 on “The Fate and Meaning of Political Philosophy in Our Century,” and visiting fellow Elizabeth Clark was scheduled to speak on June 24 on policy toward electoral assistance.

On April 23, a rescheduled lecture in the series on “The Democratic Invention” was given at George Washington University by Polish foreign minister Bronisław Geremek. (An edited version of his lecture appears above on pp. 115–120.) A book based on the lecture series will be published in 2000.

The Forum is planning two major conferences. On July 12–14, the inaugural meeting of the Democracy Forum for East Asia, a joint project of the NED and Korea’s Sejong Institute, will take place in Seoul, with President Kim Dae Jung delivering the keynote address. On November 11–13, a conference on “State, Market, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America” will be held in Santiago, Chile, with the cosponsorship of Taiwan’s Institute for National Policy Research, Chile’s Centro de Estudios Públicos, and the International Forum.

Finally, Johns Hopkins University Press will publish in September Democratization in Africa, its eighth Journal of Democracy book.


Copyright © 1999 National Endowment for Democracy and Johns Hopkins University Press