International Human Rights Day Statement

This day marks the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that enshrines the fundamental freedoms of religion, expression, peaceful assembly, and association for all individuals, everywhere.  In observing International Human Rights Day, we honor those who struggle for the right to speak their minds, to worship without fear, to choose their leaders, and to be protected from arbitrary arrest and detention—particularly in China where the Chinese government and Communist Party severely, and sometimes brutally, restrict universally-recognized rights. 

On this day, we recommit ourselves to supporting the brave men and women in China who work to defend human dignity and advance the cause of freedom, including courageous rights defenders like Jiang Tianyong, Tang Jingling, Xia Lin, Gulmira Imin, Wang Quanzhang, Ilham Tohti, Li Yuhan, and so many others whom Chinese authorities have imprisoned, disappeared, detained or tortured for their rights advocacy.  

We also note with great concern the plight of Liu Xia, widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, whom Chinese officials have confined to her Beijing apartment under tight government surveillance, isolated from the outside world.  Authorities detained Liu Xiaobo on December 8, 2008, for his involvement in authoring Charter 08, an aspirational document calling for political reform and freedom in China which was released to coincide with International Human Rights Day.  The aspirations that Liu and others set forth in that historic manifesto have not yet been realized by the Chinese people.

While resurgent authoritarianism in China and elsewhere challenges the rights that we celebrate today, we nevertheless believe that freedom is the true desire of the human heart and will triumph eventually over fear, tyranny, and repression and we remain committed to working toward that end.


For more information please contact the Scott Flipse, Director of Policy & Media Relations, 202-226-3777 or at