The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and Chair Irwin Cotler issued the following statement on International Human Rights Day :
Today we celebrate the 68th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the International Magna Cartafor the promotion and protection of human rights in our time – and the inspirational foundation for the International Bill of Rights.
It is important that we recall and reaffirm its founding principles that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; that the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world; and that human rights are universal, interdependent and indivisible”
On this day, we remember – and express solidarity with – imprisoned human rights heroes, whose case and cause are being championed by the RWCHR, where I serve as part of their international legal team:
· Saudi Arabian Blogger Raif Badawi
· Venezuelan Democratic Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez
· Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiabo
· Founder of China Democracy movement Dr. Wang BingZhang
· Baha’i 7 leadership of Iran
· Web developer and permanent Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour
· Mauritanian anti-slavery activists
Their ongoing imprisonment involves an assault on the foundational rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and including:
· The criminalization of innocence, where these human rights heroes are imprisoned not for what they do, but for who they are.
· The criminalization of fundamental freedoms of belief and expression, association and assembly.
· Torture in detention to coerce false confession, to deter other human rights defenders and intimidate families.
· Denial of the fundamentals of due process, including the right to a fair hearing, the right to counsel, the right to an independent judiciary, the right to rebut accusations, and to affirm evidence on their own behalf.
· Harassment, intimidation, and assault upon families of the prisoners.
· Suppression of civil society leaders and NGOs who support these political prisoners, running the risk of becoming political prisoners themselves.
· State-sanctioned culture of oppression amidst a culture of impunity.
We say to these human rights heroes, their families, and supporters:
You are not alone. We stand in solidarity with you. Your cause is our cause. We will not relent until your freedom is secured and you can reunite with your families