Wished I was there when Chen Guangcheng embraced Christian Bale

November 17, 2012

Elisa Massimino, President and CEO of New York based Human Rights First describes the scene as follows:

It was the most striking moment of our annual Human Rights Dinner, one that was shown on TV and across the Internet: Chen Guangcheng, in tears, embracing actor Christian Bale. Last year when Chen was under house arrest in China, authorities rebuffed Bale when he tried to visit the “barefoot lawyer.” The two met for the first time—with a hug—when Bale presented Chen with our Human Rights Award.

What gave this moment its power was Chen’s story: his teaching himself the law so that he could help others; his courage in the face of repeated persecution; his heroic journey from house arrest to the American embassy.

His story is ongoing. We gave him the award—and he accepted it—to highlight the need to help public interest lawyers and other persecuted Chinese citizens. They include his nephew, Chen Kegui, who—after defending himself and his family when government thugs broke into their home—was charged with a crime and imprisoned. “This award,” Chen said in his speech, “for me and for my colleagues, is an example of the waves building and gathering power. Together, we are the rising tide of kindness, decency and respect for the rule of law.”

While the dinner is an occasion for us to honor activists and others who have contributed to the struggle for human rights, it is also a chance for our organization to renew our commitment to challenging the United States to live up to its ideals. As Chen said, “My hope is that all of us, as we go forward, will make human rights a priority.”

I think it shows the power of awards

One Response to “Wished I was there when Chen Guangcheng embraced Christian Bale”


  1. […] “China did not invite him to some village in Shandong to create news or make a film,” said Liu Weimin, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry later said, VOA reported. “If he went there to create news, I don’t think that would be welcomed in China.” However, in 2012, Bale finally met Chen and presented the Human Rights Award by the Human Rights First Organization to him at its annual gala. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/11/17/wished-i-was-there-when-chen-guangcheng-embraced-christ… […]


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