Declaration of Dissidents for Universal Human Rights
Latest from the United Nations

 Vol. 313  |  Sept. 28, 2011         

Link to this briefing

Dissidents Urge UN to Expel China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia from its Human Rights Council & Women's Rights Commission

Draft resolutions sent to UN chief Ban Ki-moon on human rights situations in China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe

NEW YORK, Sept. 28 - Led by UN Watch, some of the world's most famous dissidents and former political prisoners urged the UN today to suspend China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council, which is now in session, and to expel Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women. See full text below.

In a letter sent today to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and rights commissioner Navi Pillay, the international group of activists submitted draft resolutions on the human rights situations in China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, for adoption by the UN's General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.  Canadian MP Irwin Cotler announced the dissidents' declaration yesterday in the Canadian parliament. 

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Declaration of Dissidents for Universal Human Rights

United Nations, New York, September 22, 2011

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We, former prisoners of conscience, dissidents, victims of torture, persecution, and repression, fighters for freedom, democracy and the dignity of all human beings, gathered here at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, on 22 September 2011, do hereby declare:

Seventy years ago this week, in the face of Nazi tyranny, nations gathered in London to proclaim the Four Freedoms of the Atlantic Charter that are the birthright of all human beings and the hallmarks of democratic society: Freedom of speech and of belief, freedom from fear and from want. These four freedoms form the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Two decades ago, the Soviet Union, the other great tyranny of the twentieth century, collapsed amidst the cry for freedom that first resonated through its satellite states. Today, across the Middle East, we are witnessing that same cry echoing from Cairo to Tripoli toDamascus, as old regimes are swept aside or cling to power through ever more brutal means.

Inspired by the courage and idealism shown by ordinary women and men fighting for basic freedoms across the world; enraged by the continuing evils perpetrated by authoritarian states, including genocide, torture, state-sanctioned violence, rape and starvation as an instrument of political repression, the imprisonment of thousands of men and women of conscience, the silencing of dissenting voices, the xenophobic persecution of minorities, the denial of freedom of thought, belief and worship; we, survivors of repression in our own countries of origin, recognize that human beings can be trampled, but their spirit can never be crushed.

At this decisive moment in the struggle for universal human rights, we celebrate the defeat of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi and of other brutal regimes in the surrounding region.

To the remaining tyrants and dictators around the globe, who have systematically violated the rights of their peoples, we give notice: Your time has passed. No more will the world suffer your specious arguments to justify policies and practices of abuse and repression in the name of claimed exceptions to the universality of basic human rights. Belonging to diverse faiths and cultures, and originating from all regions of the world, we, the authors of this Declaration, unequivocally reject such dishonest apologetics, which suit the interests of the despots, and not the interests, or ideas, of their peoples.

We assert that the writ of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly, continues to run through all societies, and for all times. The talk of tyrants is refuted by the cries of prisoners—who, from the dungeons of Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Tibet, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere—demand justice and freedom on the basis of these universal laws and eternal truths.

Therefore, in renewing the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call on the United Nations to make the dream of the four freedoms a reality. We urge the United Nations General Assembly to pursue a new agenda for human rights, and call for the Member States to:

  • Remove tyrannical governments from special positions of power in the United Nations human rights system. Welcoming the United Nations suspension this year of the Gaddafi regime from the Human Rights Council, and the successful campaigns to prevent the election of Iran and Syria to that body, we call on the United Nations to continue on the path of reform, including by:

 

      • Suspending China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council;
      • Removing Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women; and
      • Expelling Saudi Arabia from the Executive Board of UN Women.

 

  • Adopt the annexed resolutions on compelling situations of human rights that have hitherto been neglected or ignored at the United Nations;
  • Champion the cause of civil society by speaking out against the persecution of human rights defenders and dissidents, and for the freedom of non-governmental organizations to advocate for an end to repressive laws and practices;
  • Guarantee the freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly, being the lifeblood of democracy;
  • Condemn the ongoing censorship, harassment and imprisonment of Internet fighters for freedom and democracy;
  • Demand equality, tolerance and freedom for minorities everywhere;
  • Defend women who are victims of state-sanctioned subjugation; and
  • Protect children from ideologies of hatred and intolerance that promote contempt for fundamental human rights.

Annexed
1. Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in China
2. Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Cuba
3.
Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Pakistan
4. Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Russia
5. Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
6. Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Syria
7. Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela
8. Proposed UNGA Resolution on Situation of Human Rights in Zimbabwe

Signed on this 22nd day of September, 2011, at the opening of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, for the We Have A Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution.

 

Yang Jianli, Former Chinese political prisoner, founder of Initiatives for China
Ahmad Batebi, Former Iranian political prisoner
Fidel Suarez Cruz, Cuban dissident and former prisoner
John Dau, Survivor of war in Sudan and founder of John Dau Foundation
Rebiya Kadeer, Uyghur dissident and former political prisoner in China
Grace Kwinjeh, Zimbabwean dissident and torture victim
Berta Antunez, Women’s rights activist in Cuba with Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White)
Adeeb Yousif, Darfur human rights activist
Jacqueline Kasha, Ugandan activist for LGBT rights, recipient of Martin Ennals 2011 Human Rights Defenders Prize
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, Iranian human rights activist
Witnessed by:
Prof. Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP, former Minister of Justice & Attorney General, McGill U. law professor, international human rights lawyer, counsel to prisoners of conscience
David Lowe, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, National Endowment of Democracy
Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, Chair of UN Watch
Katrina Lantos Swett, President of Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice
Philippe Robinet, French publisher of human rights testimonies
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch
John Suarez, Directorio
Human Rights Foundation
Viet Tan

(For list of all 22 human rights NGOs sponsoring the summit, click here. For videos of the testimonies, click here.)


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