Foreign Secretary honours human rights defenders
Highlighting the important work of human rights defenders, the theme for this year’s International Human Rights Day, the Foreign Secretary said:
“It is a pleasure to send this message of support on International Human Rights Day. This year we honour those who defend human rights around the world.
“Human rights are at the very heart of Britain’s foreign policy. We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience, and we cannot achieve long term security and prosperity unless we uphold our values. We have to be resolute and determined in standing up for those who are denied the rights and freedoms we enjoy, while striving to be an inspiring example of them ourselves.
“So today we remember all those who champion the rights and freedoms of their fellow men and women, often at great personal cost:
“We remember in particular Liu Xiaobo who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but is imprisoned in China, and we call again for his release.
“We remember the more than 2,200 prisoners of conscience still unacceptably detained in Burma.
“We call on Iran to cease its harassment, intimidation and imprisonment of human rights defenders, and we call for justice for Nasrin Sotoudeh and others who share a similar plight.
“We remember the four people imprisoned this year in Vietnam for peacefully expressing their opinions, including the lawyer Le Cong Dinh.
“And we deplore the sentence of life imprisonment handed down to the human rights activist Mr Askarov in Kyrgyzstan, despite reports of significant flaws in the judicial process.
“Britain will raise these and other cases with governments around the world, ensuring that human rights are woven deeply into our foreign policy. Pursuing our enlightened national interest, we will remain true to our values while standing up for our own citizens. On international human rights day I encourage you to visit our improved human rights pages on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website, and to sign up to our new Twitter feed, to learn more about our work in this vital area.”