Washington, DC - Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski will present the 2014 Human Rights Defenders Award to Azimjon Askarov of Kyrgyzstan and Foro Penal, a Venezuelan non-governmental organization, on Thursday, July 16, at 2:30 p.m. in the Treaty Room at the U.S. Department of State. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will provide opening remarks.

The Human Rights Defender Award is given to individuals or non-governmental organizations that have shown exceptional valor and leadership in advocating for the protection of human rights and democracy.

Azimjon Askarov is a uniting figure in the human rights community, bringing together people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to urge the government of Kyrgyzstan to take effective action towards creating a sustainable peace between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz. Due to Mr. Askarov’s imprisonment, his son, Sherzod, will accept the award on his behalf.

Foro Penal, a Venezuelan pro-bono network of over 200 lawyers and 1,000 human rights defenders, advocates for human rights and rule of law in Venezuela and abroad. As the government silenced media outlets and blocked Internet access to Venezuelans, Foro Penal provided timely, critical, and independent information during the 2014 Venezuelan protests, and continues to defend and promote human rights despite risk of government suppression. Founder and Director Gonzalo Himiob and Executive Director Alfredo Romero will accept on behalf of Foro Penal.