SAN FRANCISCO (September 28, 2004) – The executive director of The Dui Hua Foundation, John Kamm, was today awarded a MacArthur Fellowship by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The prestigious award is given every year to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary originality and dedication to their creative pursuits and who have contributed importantly to society through their work.
In awarding Kamm a MacArthur Fellowship, the MacArthur Foundation cited Kamm for designing and implementing “an original approach to freeing prisoners of conscience in China by leveraging business relationships…Kamm’s pragmatic, case by case strategy complements human rights advocacy based on international conventions and principles. Having won the release or improved the conditions of hundreds, he has demonstrated his approach as an effective means of addressing contentious human rights issues with Beijing.” Read the complete biography on Kamm that appeared on the foundation’s website.
The MacArthur Foundation lists Kamm’s profession as “Businessman/Human Rights Strategist.” Although a number of human rights leaders have received MacArthur Fellowships, this is apparently the first time in the 23 year history of the MacArthur Fellows Program that the award has been given to a businessman.
Reacting to news of the award, Kamm said: “Businesspeople can contribute to the advance of human rights in ways previously thought not possible, notably by collecting information on political prisoners and advocating their release to officials of countries where they trade and invest. In giving me this extraordinary award, the MacArthur Foundation is recognizing the potential of business to advance the cause of human rights.”
“I could not have done the work being recognized today without the support and encouragement of my family and friends, my fellow directors and colleagues at The Dui Hua Foundation, friends in the American, Chinese and other governments, coworkers in the international human rights community, and released prisoners and their families, who have urged me not to forget those still imprisoned for the non-violent expression of their beliefs. I am also grateful to those who have taken a chance on Dui Hua and chosen to support us—grantors and contributors. I intend to use the award to strengthen Dui Hua, and help enable it to carry on its work,” Kamm said.