Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of State’s release of its 2013 Human Rights Report:
“America was founded on the fundamental truths that all humans are created equal and possess God-given rights. For over two centuries, the world has been a better place because America has strongly defended these freedoms both at home and abroad.
“The State Department’s annual human rights report sheds light on foreign governments’ failures to respect their citizens’ fundamental rights. These violations come in all forms, from the sexual exploitation of women and children to the denial of political, economic and religious freedoms. They remind us that the world is as dangerous as ever, and why America’s foreign policy should be guided by a clear-eyed understanding that tyrants don’t care about peace and freedom the way Americans do.
“A prime example is the ongoing government repression of peaceful student demonstrations in Venezuela, where 14 innocent people have been killed. In Ukraine, hundreds of civilians have paid the ultimate price at the hand of the Yanukovych government simply for expressing their desire to be governed free of corruption and Russian influence. For its part, Russia arrested hundreds of demonstrators this week, just as the Olympic flame was extinguished in Sochi. In Cuba, the Castro regime continues denying its citizens the most basic freedoms and holding an American citizen hostage, while exporting its repressive machine to Venezuela. In Iran, an American pastor is in his second year of imprisonment for exercising his fundamental human right to religious freedom and the Iranian people continue to face brutal repression. This month’s release of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry exposed the sordid human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed by the North Korean regime. In China, the world’s most populous nation, more than a billion people are denied the basic human rights that we as Americans often take for granted.
“All over the world, America has opportunities to stand clearly on the side of freedom and human rights, and we must ensure that our words and actions reflect this message to people who look to us for support. It is important that these nations know that the United States will stand with freedom-seeking people around the world and will not tolerate violations against their rights. Additionally, we must be mindful that American inaction only emboldens tyrants to commit atrocities and continue persecution.
“I urge President Obama and Secretary Kerry to place a greater emphasis on these issues in their interactions with foreign officials and to make sure that in every diplomatic meeting at all levels of the U.S. government, with countries of concern, respect for human rights should be central to the discussion.”