Embassy Events 2009
Adam Michnik Receives the 2009 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award
7 December 2009
Adam Michnik, one of Poland’s most prominent and influential journalists, who stood in the forefront of the illegal, democratic opposition during Communist rule in Poland, became the 2009 recipient of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award. The award, sponsored by the Ratiu Family Foundation and named after the most outspoken and consistent opponent of Nicolae Ceausescu and the communist dictatorship in Romania, honors outstanding political activists from Central and Eastern Europe for the promotion of democratic values. The award ceremony took place on December 3, 2009 at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. Professor Zbigniew Brzeziński, a renowned Polish-American political scientist and former U.S. National Security Advisor, gave opening remarks. After the ceremony, Adam Michnik gave a lecture on the history of the fall of communism and modern challenges to democracy. While he retired from active political life in 1991, Michnik continues to promote democratic values as the Editor-in-Chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s largest-circulation daily newspaper.
“For over 40 years, Adam Michnik has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to securing the rights and liberties of the Polish people and to the values of democracy. Writer and political journalist, Michnik was one of the leaders of the democratic Polish opposition in Poland (1968-1989). He was a founding member of the Komitet Obrony Robotników (Committee for the Defense of Workers) in 1976 and a prominent activist during the Solidarity movement of the 1980s. Adam Michnik is a renowned political activist and member of the first democratically elected Polish legislature, in 1989.
In the 20 years since the collapse of communism, Adam Michnik distinguished himself through the positions adopted in the public space as editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza or as author of “The History of Honour in Poland” or “Confessions of a Converted Dissident.” The choice of Adam Michnik as laureate of the Ion Ratiu 2009 Democracy Award may be interpreted on different levels: individually (as a dissident during the Polish communist regime), as Polish patriot (advocating the traditional values of courage and resistance against a totalitarian regime) and as a fighter for democracy, as a role model for those fighting for justice, freedom and democracy in Europe and the world.”