These remarks were made at the National Democratic Institute’s 13th Annual Awards acceptance by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, D.C. on September 23, 1999.
I am constantly amazed at the sacrifices that people make—men and women—who believe what we say here in our country, who are committed to giving the gift of freedom to their people. We have lost some wonderful champions of freedom and democracy this past year. Paul read their names out and reflected on each. Of course, we all know the extraordinary contributions that Wayne Kirkland (ph.) made here in our country and around the world. The other two names that Paul mentioned may not be as well known, but I knew them both.
The last time I saw Galeena was in Sophia, Bulgaria, where we were having a conference about women and were attempting to bring together representatives of the public and private sectors of South Eastern Europe. She was there with that same energy and spirit that she brought to her path-breaking work in Russia, where she was literally one of the first people to create a new democratic party for her country. She intended to continue her work in politics, and she paid for her commitment to democracy and her fight against corruption with her life when she was gunned down in St. Petersburg.
Similarly, I had the great privilege of meeting in Sri Lanka, Neelan Tiruchelvam, who was an advocate on behalf of victims of violence. He himself was (inaudible) that he stood against the extraordinary violence that has plagued his country for so many decades. My meeting with him when I was in Columbo was one of the most vivid memories I have of all of my travels around the world. Because of his commitment to peace and democracy and reconciliation, he went to where others feared to go. And he too paid the ultimate price.
Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, MP with US First Lady Hillary Clinton in April 1995.