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Human Rights Day: Despite Progress Abuses Continue

Human Rights Day 2006: Despite Progress, Abuses Continue Around Globe

Washington, D.C. -- Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10 around the globe, is an important occasion for those who enjoy freedom to recognize and provide solidarity to the brave men and women who continue the struggle to improve fundamental human rights in their own countries, Freedom House said today.

While the past century has seen an ever increasing percentage of the world’s population living in freedom, egregious human rights abuses continue in countries like Sudan, Burma, North Korea, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe. In addition, many countries which have not been among the world’s very worst abusers of human rights are demonstrating a new trend in silencing human rights defenders. Legislation limiting the ability of nongovernmental organizations to operate has been passed in a number of countries like Egypt, Peru, Russia, and Venezuela, stifling the voices of those who would otherwise speak out to defend the rights of their citizens.

“Supporters of human rights must not simply assume that progress is inevitable—in fact, there is a not so subtle pushback afoot against the promotion of human rights and democracy that even some supposedly democratic governments are participating in,” said Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House. “However, the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are as valid as ever, and those activists who are working to advance them in their countries deserve our attention and support,” she added.

Freedom House pays tribute to all the men and women around the world who fight to end the tyranny of abuse and to secure their rightful place among the free. Among the many such individuals whom Freedom House would like to recognize are:

Semir Dilou, a political prisoner for 10 years in Tunisia, was one of eight Tunisians who participated in a 32-day hunger strike in 2005 to advocate for freedom for political prisoners, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Cheol Hwan Kang, author of Aquariums of Pyongyang, survived 10 years in a North Korean political prisoners’ camp and now heads the NGO, NKGulag (Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag).

Christian Mounzéo, a leading anticorruption activist in Congo-Brazzaville and founder and president of the nongovernmental organization Engagement for Peace and Human Rights, he has been repeatedly arrested and continues to face dubious charges for his attempts to promote transparency and accountability in the use of natural resource revenues.

Maurilio Santiago, a Mexican human rights lawyer and director of the Human Rights Center and Consultancy for Indigenous People, an NGO based in the Oaxaca state of Mexico. Maurilio and his staff are managing cases of abuses against indigenous people within the Inter American human rights system, in order to raise the profile of the issues throughout the Americas region.

Mutabar Tajibayeva is a leader of the Firehearts, the largest human rights movement in the Fergana Valley region of Uzbekistan. She provided legal advice to human rights activists and staged demonstrations to address violated human rights in the region. Ms. Tajibayeva was arrested more than a year ago on fraud charges and was later convicted. She is serving a prison term of more than seven years.

For more information about the state of freedom around the globe, visit Freedom House's annual survey, Freedom in the World.

Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world.

ENDS

www.freedomhouse.org

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