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The Year in Review for the Bush Institute's Human Freedom Initiative

Article by Christopher Walsh December 9, 2015 //   3 minute read

It’s International Human Rights Day. Today, we remember all the brave men and women around the world who struggle for their fundamental freedoms. We also reflect on how the Human Freedom Initiative has worked to support their cause in 2015.  Here are seven ways:

1. Releasing a Call-to-Action Paper on North Korea. The Human Freedom initiative kicked off the year with the release of Light through the Darkness, a comprehensive call to action for improving the human condition in North Korea.

 

2.  Supporting Political Prisoners Phyoe Phyoe Aung and James. Two Liberty and Leadership Forum alumni, Phyoe Phyoe Aung and her husband James, were arrested and jailed in Burma for peacefully advocating for higher education reform. In a statement, President and Mrs. Bush expressed concern for the student leaders and their release.

3.  Launching Freedom Matters! In March, Mrs. Bush launched Freedom Matters!, a new online supplemental curriculum that aims to deepen students’ understanding of freedom around the world.

4. Celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday at the Bush Center. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama kicked off celebrations of his 80th birthday in the United States by visiting Dallas in July. He inspired 5,000 people from across North Texas at SMU’s Moody Coliseum.  Staff from the Bush Center serenaded His Holiness with a round of Happy Birthday to You.

 

5. Premiering What is Freedom? In a new Freedom Collection mini-documentary, What is Freedom? political leaders, policy experts, and everyday heroes from around the world explain freedom as a universal human right.

 

6.  Supporting Burma’s Young Leaders.  President Bush gave the commencement address for the Institute’s inaugural class of the Liberty and Leadership Forum.  The 18 graduates from Burma, representing young men and women devoted to their country’s democratic transition, returned to Dallas in June for the ceremony. Following the graduation, Htoot May was elected to parliament in the country’s first nationwide, multiparty elections in 25 years. Wai Wai Nu was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Global Thinkers for advocating for minority rights, particularly the Rohingya, in Burma.

7.  Linking North Korean Human Rights and National Security. Testifying before Congress, Victor Cha, a George W. Bush Institute Human Freedom Fellow and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argued that a successful U.S strategy for North Korea links national security to human rights saying, “The international mobilization on North Korean human rights lacks partisan coloring, remains resilient, and puts as much pressure on the regime as the standing UNSCR [United Nations Security Council resolution] sanctions regime.”