Freedom House mourns the loss of Mexican Interior Minister Jose Francisco Blake Mora and Vice Minister Felipe de Jesus Zamora Castro--two of the eight people aboard a helicopter that crashed near Mexico City on November 11. Freedom House sends its condolences to the victims' families, President Felipe Calderon and the Mexican government.
Freedom House commends the November 12 decision by the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership in the organization and calls on the Arab League to consider further sanctions against Damascus. The decision intensifies pressure on the Syrian government to halt its increasing violence against pro-democracy activists, and was welcomed by Syria’s oppressed people.
Freedom House calls for the immediate release of Vu Duc Trung and Le Van Thanh, sentenced to 2-3 years in prison for broadcasting a radio program publicizing human rights abuses in China, including the persecution of Falun Gong, across the China-Vietnam border. The sentences come as a Vietnamese delegation is in Washington, DC for the U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, during which issues of deteriorating religious freedom, press freedom, and other human rights issues in Vietnam are to be discussed.
On November 4, to mark the release of this year’s edition of Countries at the Crossroads, Freedom House and the Atlantic Council hosted a discussion on the prospects for successful democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)—particularly in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, which were among six MENA countries examined in the new Crossroads report.
Eight years and a day after President George W. Bush laid out a broad agenda in support of freedom and representative government in the Middle East at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood before the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on November 7 to essay a detailed overview of the Obama administration’s response to the Arab Spring. The secretary’s remarks did much to advance and clarify the administration’s policy. But their historical continuity with the Bush policy was equally striking. Call it the Bush Freedom Agenda 2.0.
Amid the political convulsions wracking the Middle East, few prolonged protests have been as ignored by the West, particularly the United States, as those in the tiny Gulf monarchy of Bahrain. Despite the regime’s brutality, which has targeted peaceful protesters, human rights activists and medical personnel, the United States recently signed a multimillion-dollar arms deal (currently on hold) with the country and has remained largely silent amid a crackdown that proportionally surpasses the magnitude of any other in the region. Despite the fact that Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and has received the coveted designation of ‘non-NATO ally’, the people of Bahrain have the same right to advocate for democratic change as their counterparts in the region.