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On International Human Rights Day, Rubio Calls For A U.S. Foreign Policy That Lends A Voice To Voiceless

Dec 10, 2015 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, issued the following statement marking International Human Rights Day and highlighting some of the cases featured in his #expressionNOToppression social media campaign:
“Today we commemorate International Human Rights Day. It’s an occasion to be thankful for our God-given rights but also to remember that there are millions of people around the world who are denied their most basic human rights every day. In order to bring more attention to human rights abuses across the world, I have begun highlighting them through my #expressionNOToppression social media campaign. Sadly, there are far too many cases to feature and only a few have been resolved.
“In Saudi Arabia, blogger Raif Badawi sits in jail waiting to find out if he is going to be flogged for encouraging political and religious debate. In Iran, the fates of Jason Rezaian, Pastor Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Robert Levinson remain uncertain. In China Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, a distinguished writer, professor and human rights activist, languishes in prison unable to claim the prize that is rightfully his five years later. Just yesterday, Azerbaijan released Leyla Yunus a prominent human rights activist due to her deteriorating health, but she is still charged with treason. In Cuba, dissident leaders Vladimir Morera Bacallao and Jorge Ramirez Calderon, two of the 53 political prisoners released as part of President Obama’s Cuba deal, were both re-arrested last month. Vladimir is serving a four-and-a-half year sentence for hanging a sign outside his home and Jorge was sentenced to two and a half years for joining a peaceful protest asking for improved sanitary conditions and water in his community.
“Time and again political prisoners and dissidents the world over have expressed that consistent public pressure on their behalf, at the highest levels of government, resulted in better treatment in prison, reduced sentences and in some cases freedom. Shamefully the Obama Administration has all but abandoned this time-honored, bipartisan tradition which has been a hallmark of American foreign policy for decades. And so today we honor all prisoners of conscience who are struggling to exercise their most basic human rights and those citizens who fight to create a better future for their countries. The United States needs to continue to be a beacon of hope for these heroes by lending a voice to the voiceless.”