The right to form associations, clubs, and other groups, as well as to meet or talk with people individually without government interference, is identified as a fundamental freedom under Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is an essential component of any society. This freedom can be exercised by practicing one’s faith with fellow believers, forming labor unions and other civic groups, peacefully protesting unjust government policies, or simply forming human connections, in person or online, on issues of common interest. But in more than half of the world, this right is regularly infringed upon by governments, especially when it takes a form that antidemocratic regimes find threatening.
Today, on Global Freedom of Association Day, we highlight 10 of the most ridiculous ways in which the world’s more repressive governments have restricted freedom of association and assembly.
We, the undersigned regional and international non-governmental organizations, write to express our grave concerns regarding the arbitrary arrest and mistreatment of 13 women human rights defenders at the Boeung Kak Lake (BKL) development site in Phnom Penh on May 22, 2012. We strongly condemn their prosecution on trumped-up charges and summary trial, just 48 hours later, resulting in their conviction and sentencing to lengthy prison terms.