February 3, 2013: New York, NY, USA: Yoko Ono Lennon presents her "2013 Courage Awards for the Arts" to Julian Assange of Wikileaks in absentia. Accepting the award for Assange are Michael Ratner (2nd from left) and Balthasar Garzon Real (2nd from right). Daniel Ellsberg (left) and Foreign Minister of Ecuador Ricardo Patino Aroca also spoke at the ceremony. (Allan Tannenbaum/Polaris)

February 3, 2013: New York, NY, USA: Yoko Ono Lennon presents her “2013 Courage Awards for the Arts” to Julian Assange of Wikileaks in absentia. Accepting the award for Assange are Michael Ratner (2nd from left) and Balthasar Garzon Real (2nd from right). Daniel Ellsberg (left) and Foreign Minister of Ecuador Ricardo Patino Aroca also spoke at the ceremony. (Allan Tannenbaum/Polaris)

Leading International Advocates for Civil Liberties Honor, Accept Award on Wikileaks Founder’s Behalf

February 3, 2013, New York, NY

Yoko Ono Lennon this evening granted her 2013 Courage Award for the Arts to journalist and Wikileaks principle Julian Assange. The award was delivered to Mr. Assange in absentia at The Modern restaurant in Manhattan before an audience of civil rights advocates, artists and diplomats.

The Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award For The Arts

The Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award For The Arts 2013

Ms. Ono Lennon initiated the Courage Award in 2009 to recognize artists who demonstrated courage in their work, despite pressure to succumb to commercial and political constraints.


Today Yoko Ono Lennon commented on her decision to extend the award to a journalist:

“Our public officials have forgotten that they are ultimately accountable to the people who put them in office; that the information they keep in secrecy belongs to all of us. Julian Assange took a courageous step by rightfully returning what belongs to the public domain. For that reason, I believe we need to stand behind him.”

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Currently confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Mr. Assange accepted the award via two of his legal counselors: Baltasar Garzón Real of Spain, best known for his precedent-setting pursuit of Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity, and Michael Ratner, longtime civil rights attorney and President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who delivered Mr Assange’s speech to the audience.

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador

In his speech, Mr Assange gives special thanks to Ecuador’s people, its President, Rafael Correa, and its Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, who also honored Mr Assange at the ceremony.



Mr Assange’s speech dedicates the award to Wikileaks’ sources, supporters and staff, stating, “through their courage and wit they are revealing the true nature of our global human civilization. This is how we may reform it. Elevate it – and make it just, beyond its humble origins. Their courage in documenting war crimes, gross human rights violations, and the corruption of our societies is unequalled.”


Aaron Swartz

He also made special mention of the recent death of American programmer and Internet activist, Aaron Swartz, who took his own life after being pursued with felony charges for downloading academic articles at MIT.

Notably, the ceremony also included a speech by American whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg who famously exposed the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War era.

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning

Daniel Ellsberg: “Julian Assange richly deserves this award. I hope that this award will give the Nobel Committee the courage to award Bradley Manning and Julian Assange the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Michael Ratner: “Julian and others who’ve opened secret governments and exposed crimes should be treated as heroes. Hopefully the courage award will go a long way toward acknowledging his public service and ending his persecution. I hope that in five years Julian will be standing before us, celebrated like Daniel Ellsberg was tonight.”

Baltasar Garzón: “Even when he is a prisoner inside the Ecuadorean Embassy his voice is not. His words, wisdom and acts are out, reminding us all the time that courage is contagious and truth is a powerful force.”

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino Aroca: “Julian gives us all an example: the powerful cannot hide information to dominate states and destroy democracies.”

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8 Responses to Yoko Ono Lennon Presents 2013 Courage Award to Julian Assange (in absentia) in New York City

  1. All you will read now-my dedicated to all and to everyone….Whith LOVE….Anastasia Rakutko.Russia…

    “She had known him always. As soon began to realize that he can not live without the silent night conversations with the moon, the stars and the deep black sky. All of them were her home, her friends, her love, her soul. Every night she came to the balcony and, pressing his forehead against the cold beam, stiffened in the same position. Her eyes were fixed into the abyss. In the abyss of growing moon, the stars twinkled and swam summer clouds.
    She stared into the night sky, and in her mind, in thought, sounded the melody. This melody has always lived in it and it was the rhythm of his heart. He and she.
    They are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Between their birth time span of 20 years. He and she. Their meeting will be incredible. This is the most unrealistic love story to tell the world. And it’s true.

    He. He was born with a little magic in the moon palms and endless smile of love. In his eyes – the universe, ocean, moon path, Dolphins in a spray of water, boy, dancing on the sand and dreaming of flying, kiss a child, light and delicate as a butterfly wing … And this love was so strong, and the mystery of it was so precious that the world is afraid of the purity and uncertainty. The world loved him with all my heart. But some part of the world, frightened him. Driven by the fear people have easy and cowardly decision – to slander and to banish from his world unknown to them, incomprehensible its spiritual purity man that he is not embarrassed by their calm and not make them worry about their unfair and dishonest actions.
    And he was hurt. Throughout his life he felt pain. Different pain, and mental and physical. But he was true to himself. He lived in love for her. He worked with his thoughts about her. He spoke to her music, it spoke to her poetry, he spoke to her, but did not hear an answer. His voice dies and is born with each new song, but he knew that among the billions of people in this big world a million times he walked past her, hundreds of millions of times they have failed to meet views. And with fierce tenacity he continued to send her messages to the Universe. The strength of this love, breaking all the laws that exist in this world like a great glass led him to the edge of the beautiful abyss, where all dreams come true and it lasts forever. At the edge of the abyss, having received and understood every one of his messages, for an eternity, waiting for it.
    He went through the pain. Again. Absurd. Stupid. Death? He looked around, and their eyes met. She knew everything, everything felt. Always. And … she met him. And silence reigned. And time stands still. And only he and she alone. Hypnosis love in the eye. He was born again because of her, because she was waiting to tell him so much … And He. He had long sought to speak to her forever …”

  2. Benny Zable says:

    Fantatic Yoko! You are such an inspiration conceptualising this culture of peace and the environment award/s. Julian Assange is a great example. Proud he went to school, just up from my home in Nimbin NSW Australia, pioneering community action, taking on the Coal Seam Gas in our area. I hope one day you and Seam visit our community, which is sister to the Village of Woodstock.
    In May we celebrate the 40th anniversary since the Nimbin Aquarius Festival which put this village on the map as the capital of the Alternative Society of Australia.

  3. BIA says:

    You are a very brave woman and the world needs more people like you, strong, determined and courageous!!! A great “The Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award For The Arts 2013” honest and merited Julian Assange of Wikileaks!!! Congratulations Yoko!!! 🙂

    i ii iii


  4. Sonia Elwell says:

    Bravo Yoko! The world needs more courageous people like u that don’t think only about what is the impact of being courageous on their pockets. Courageous enough to stand by really courageous ones like Mr. Assange.

  5. Valter Machado says:

    I believe that in this generation, Brasil will be democratic…

  6. Maria Cristina Lauridsen says:

    Mrs. Yoko Ono Lennon you are such an adorable citizenship My prayers to you and all friends like a family I thank you all each everyday heartedly and lovingly Kind regards love Maria

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