Modern Human Rights Violations

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Human rights violations are an unfortunate and sometimes pervasive fact of life for many across the world. This lesson points out just a few examples of what violations occur and where they occur in the world.

Human Rights Violations

For many across the world, we are blessed to get up in a country where we can think what we want, state what we think, and do as we state, within reasonable boundaries, of course. We're not talking about the right to kill someone else. We're talking about the right to life, liberty, freedom of religion or political opinion, and so on.

But in a large number of countries around the world, such simple things that we take for granted are actually violated. Basic human rights are thrown out the window by dictators, political systems, or even theoretical institutions.

Let's go over just a few examples of this occurring in the modern world. In this lesson, we look at human rights from the standpoint of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a document that points out the fundamental human rights that every nation should protect.

Human Rights Violations in North Korea

Perhaps no modern country epitomizes human rights violations more so than North Korea. It is a communist country located next to Russia, China, and South Korea that is run, de facto, by a dictator called Kim Jong-un. He rules a nation of roughly 25,000,000 people in a Stalinist way.

In this nation, there are countless human rights violations. Article 19 of the UDHR states that everyone should have freedom of opinion; yet, those who dare criticize the leader of this nation or its political system runs the risk of either being sent to the modern equivalent of a concentration camp or just being executed outright. Such camps also violate Article 4 of the UDHR, an article that states that no one should be held in slavery. But in these camps, people have no choice but to do as they are told.

Articles 3 and 13 of the UDHR mention that everyone has the right to liberty and to move about freely. In North Korea, however, there is no way for someone to leave the country freely. They are, instead, forced to escape through highly-dangerous zones manned by guards that are ordered to shoot on sight. Those who escape do so with the thought in mind that as punishment for their treachery, the North Korean government may imprison their entire family and any of their children born in the camp.

Aid in the form of food has been given by nations such as China, the U.S., and South Korea in order to ease problems such as chronic, or long-term, malnutrition in the country. Due to political wrangling and economic sanctions, even this basic aid has dwindled to a trickle in recent years. This has largely occurred as a result of North Korea's unwillingness to stop its threatening ways and its general wariness of the outside world.

Human Rights Violations in China

China, essentially the only country left in the entire world that supplies North Korea with any significant aid, is well-known for its own human rights violations. For instance, many activists who fight for basic freedoms within China, such as freedom of expression, have been jailed and even tortured. This violates Article 5 of the UDHR, which states that no one shall be subjected to torture.

When human rights activists are arrested in China, many of them never get a fair trial or are subject to a complete and utter show trial. This violates Articles 10 and 11 of UDHR, which state that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a fair and independent public trial where the accused has had all the guarantees that are necessary for their defense: something not possible in a show trial.

These human rights activists, as well as ordinary Chinese citizens, are not given full rights and freedoms of opinion and expression, nor the right to freely seek and impart such information through any media, such as unbiased news sources; they are being denied Article 19 of UDHR. But, in China, media sources are tightly controlled and propagandized, and social media is heavily monitored for any signs of dissent. Internet use is also restricted so people don't have the ability to access nor impart any knowledge freely.

The U.S. has been sending aid money to China in order to try and help communities threatened by Chinese human rights violations preserve their livelihoods and traditions, such as the communities in Tibet. Most of this money does not go to the Chinese government, but to U.S. educational institutions or non-governmental organizations that try to strengthen human rights and improve democracy wherever they work.

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