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What We're Reading | August 7, 2014

Article by Brittney Bain August 7, 2014 //   2 minute read

International headlines this week highlight a three-day summit of U.S. government officials and nearly 50 African leaders in Washington, D.C. hosted by President Obama and aimed at bolstering political and economic relationships between countries. The summit included a day-long forum, hosted by the Office of the First Lady, the Bush Institute, and the U.S. Department of State, on Wednesday to examine the critical role first spouses play and focus on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships. In remarks at Wednesday’s forum, President Bush announced the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, which screens for cervical and breast cancers, will expand to two additional African countries: Namibia and Ethiopia.

In other international news, The Guardian recently featured the unlikely story of two North Koreans, one a former political prisoner and the other a former guard, who are now both defectors and work to spread world-wide awareness of human rights abuses in the country. Shin Dong-hyuk and Ahn Myeong Chul, both interviewed for the Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection, often appear together now to discuss one of the world’s most repressive regimes and the plight of prisoners in North Korean political camps.

Similarly on the topic of human freedom, Natan Sharansky wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal on the increasing ability of dissidents to use the Internet to organize and spread word about human rights abuses in their own countries.  Sharansky, a former political prisoner himself in the Soviet Gulag, writes: “Today it is easy to feel overwhelmed by events in Iran, Syria and China. But one need not be on the ground or work for a nongovernmental organization to make a difference… The actions of a few dissidents coupled with strong backing from the world can play a pivotal role in opening closed societies.”