Freedom House strongly opposes proposed cuts to the International Affairs Budget as Congress continues to consider Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and FY 2012 spending. On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee considered a bill, written and introduced by Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), that would slash international affairs spending for 2012 by almost 30% compared to current levels.
Freedom House calls on President Bashar al-Assad to resign immediately and for the United Nations to initiate an investigation into the deaths of hundreds of Syrians since the unrest began in that country. The ongoing deadly attacks on civilians by Syrian forces, as well as President al-Assad’s unwillingness to respond the protesters’ demands for genuine political reform in Syria, show that he is not fit to govern the country.
Freedom House strongly condemns ongoing government attacks on protesters in Yemen and calls upon President Ali Abdullah Saleh to acknowledge that order cannot be restored as long as he remains in power. Freedom House urges Saleh to immediately hand over power to an interim government until elections can be held, allowing the country to move toward democratic reform.
Freedom House hailed the announcement today by UNESCO that it’s prestigious annual Guillermo Cano/World Press Freedom Prize for journalists will go to Ahmad Zeidabadi, a leading Iranian journalist serving a six-year prison term for his writings after the disputed Iranian presidential election of 2009. The award, which honors journalists who have displayed exemplary courage, will be presented during a World Press Freedom day event on May 3 in Washington, D.C.
Freedom House commends the actions by the United Nations and France intended to bring the deadly political standoff in Côte d’Ivoire to a close and again calls upon Laurent Gbagbo to step down without further use of force.
In light of a troubling wave of disappearances of Chinese activists, Freedom House calls upon U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell to formally request visitation with disappeared artist and activist Ai Weiwei, as well as others whose whereabouts are unknown, during his visit to Beijing tomorrow. Freedom House also calls on Campbell and other senior Administration officials to make clear, publicly and privately, that human rights in China are a central issue in the U.S.-China relationship.
Freedom House is deeply concerned about the alarming increase in restrictions on the media and targeted harassment and arrests of opposition leaders and Shiites in Bahrain since martial law was declared on March 14 and calls on the government of Bahrain to end the emergency law and to immediately release those arrested.