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Perhaps it’s fate that Human Rights Day is observed soon after Thanksgiving. Human Rights, freedom, and democracy are all things for which Americans can give thanks. December 10 was first proclaimed as Human Rights Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950 to promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”
On this Human Rights Day, consider taking a moment to reflect on the blessing of a free society, learn about the suffering endured by those living in tyranny, and consider what you can do to help advance the cause of freedom, democracy, and peace in the world. Here are six ideas to get started:
- Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights here.
- Watch President George W. Bush’s Human Rights Day message.
- Review stunning figures from Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World report here:
- Approximately 2.4 BILLION people live in countries that are considered not free; that’s 34 percent of the global population.
- Fifty four percent of the countries on Earth are ranked as either “Not Free” or “Partly Free.”
- Visit the Freedom Collection and learn more about life under dictatorship from the people who have experienced tyranny and stood to oppose it. Watch videos from dissidents such as:
- Burma’s Zin Mar Aung who spent 11 years in prison for reading a poem.
- Syria’s Ammar Abdulhamid who was exiled from his homeland for challenging the regime’s authority.
- Zimbabwe’s Jestina Mukoko who was abducted and tortured by her government.
- Cuba’s Fidel Suarez Cruz who was arrested during the March 2003 Black Spring crackdown and spent seven years as a prisoner of conscience.
- Iran’s Nima Rashedan was harassed and imprisoned by his government for daring to publish pro-democracy articles on the Internet.
- Read former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky’s book The Case for Democracy. Sharansky received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and was invited to the White House to discuss his book.
- Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy and discover why the U.S. Congress chartered it in 1983.
Christopher Walsh is the Program Coordinator for the Freedom Collection at the George W. Bush Institute. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisJamesWalsh.
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
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