(Washington, DC): Today, on the anniversary of the United Nation’s (UN) adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), we celebrate the fundamental freedoms enshrined in that declaration and continue our work to ensure that all people are able to exercise these rights without fear of persecution or arrest.
This year, the UN has asked that we use this celebration to draw attention to the fundamental human rights enshrined in articles 19, 20 and 21 of the UDHR: freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of assembly and association; and freedom to take part in government. In the wake of the Arab Spring movement, these rights have often come under attack from authoritarian regimes around the world who crackdown on peaceful protests, place restrictions on civil society organizations and political parties, and arbitrarily arrest those who call for democracy and greater respect for human rights.
In 2012, Freedom Now has worked to free human rights defenders, political opposition leaders, journalists, and others who have been arrested and imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights and serving as voices for change in their communities. In June, Freedom Now client Bakhtiyar Haijev was released early after serving 15 months in prison after helping to organize a popular protest in Azerbaijan and posting information about the event on Facebook.
Yet many more prisoners of conscience remain imprisoned and subject to ill-treatment. Freedom Now continues to work on behalf of clients like 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, imprisoned for advocating peaceful democratic reform in China, Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega imprisoned for his critical writing about the Ethiopian regime’s abuses of power, and many more.
This Human Rights Day let us remember those who have risked their lives and freedom exercising and advocating for human rights. Please consider donating to Freedom Now and support our work on behalf of courageous individuals who are persecuted and wrongly imprisoned.