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New On The Freedom Collection: Abdel Basset Ben Hassen
Watch the Freedom Collection’s new interview with Tunisia’s Abdel Basset Ben Hassen, a prominent human rights advocate in the Middle East. Ben Hassen, who served on Tunisia’s High Committee for the Realization of the Objectives of the Revolution, Political Reform and Democratic Transition, has played an active role in his own country’s democratic transition. Ben Hassen has dedicated much of his adult life to the promotion of human rights in the Arab world. After graduating from college, he joined the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) where he worked to train thousands of freedom activists across the region on developing strategies for promoting their causes. Later, he joined the Ford Foundation in Egypt and worked directly with farmers, fisherman, and laborers in depressed areas to encourage greater human rights education. Authoritarian leaders in the Middle East and Africa posed numerous roadblocks to such work. As a result, many were afraid to join or cooperate with civil society organizations. Ben Hassen, however, viewed it as defiance against authoritarianism, “I think that part of our resistance was to develop a human rights culture and human rights education. And make it part of our attempt to introduce human rights culture in society and to reinforce our presence in these societies.” Ben Hassen, now the President of AIHR, recognizes the challenges posed by the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Regardless, he remains an optimist that the Arab world will cultivate its own democratic tradition saying, “We demonstrated that human rights culture, human rights concepts, and democratic concepts are not strange to Arab societies.” He also stresses the need for patience as such processes take time, “We have many, many opportunities and also much cultural and civic potential…we can use this civic potential to establish a vibrant and sustainable democracy not only for Tunisia, but for all Arab countries. It will not be easy at all. We'll go through many, many challenges, many difficulties.” Watch Abdel Basset Ben Hassen’s interview here. This post was written by Christopher Walsh, Program Coordinator of the Freedom Collection.
Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe