February 2013

Santa Clara University 2013 Alexander Law Prize to Be Awarded to Blind Chinese Activist Chen Guangcheng

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 20, 2013— The blind Chinese civil-rights activist and attorney who protested abuses including alleged forced abortions in his homeland will be the recipient of this year’s Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University School of Law.

The award for top lawyers who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity will be presented to Chen Guangcheng, at a ceremony the evening of March 18 at Santa Clara University’s Mayer Theatre. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. at the University’s Nobili Hall. The presentation of the award and a discussion on the future of human rights in China will take place at 7 p.m.

Media are invited to attend, but must RSVP by contacting Deborah Lohse of SCU Media Relations, dlohse@scu.edu or (408) 554-5121.

Chen is a Chinese civil rights activist who for years pursued human-rights cases in rural areas of China. Known as the “barefoot lawyer” and self-taught in law, he has advocated for more than 20 years for women's rights, rights for disabled, land rights, and constitutional law and the rule of law.

His 2005 class-action lawsuit against authorities in Linyi, Shandong, for alleged excessive enforcement of China’s one-child policy, landed him under house arrest and later sentenced to more than four years in prison. Even after his release he was detained under house arrest and reportedly beaten when his treatment was aired on the Internet.

“Mr. Chen is an outstanding example of how one person can use the power of the law to speak up for those who are suffering,” said Santa Clara University School of Law Dean Donald Polden. “We are proud to honor his work with this year’s Alexander Law Prize.”

In 2012, he escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.  His case received attention from the U.S. State Department, the British Foreign Secretary, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, each of which issued appeals on his behalf.

He and his family ultimately were granted U.S. visas after negotiations with the Chinese government.   Chen now lives with his wife and two children in New York and studies law at New York University.

He received the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership; the 2012 Lantos Human Rights Prize; and the 2012 Human Rights Award from Human Rights First. In 2006 he was named to Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

Members of the public can find out more information and register for the event through http://law.scu.edu/alexanderprize/index.cfm.

About the Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize
Katharine and George Alexander have endowed the Law Prize to be awarded annually. The purpose of the prize is to recognize a person from anywhere around the world who has used his or her skill, knowledge, and abilities in the field of law to correct an injustice in a significant manner. The hope of the donors is that the Prize will not only give the public a higher regard for the legal profession but will also be an inspiration within the legal profession and a recognition of the good work of so many in the law.

About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, founded in 1911 on the site of California’s oldest operating higher-education institution, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation’s most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 975 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; combined J.D./MBA degree; and certificates in intellectual property law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for our top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see law.scu.edu.

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse | Asst. Media Relations Director | Santa Clara University | (408) 554-5121 | dlohse@scu.edu


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