The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.
Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future.
Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International
Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.
The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.
The transparently hateful move by the US government in January to ban entry to people from several Muslim-majority countries set the scene for a year in which leaders took the politics of hate to its most dangerous conclusion,“The transparently hateful move by the US government in January to ban entry to people from several Muslim-majority countries set the scene for a year in which leaders took the politics of hate to its most dangerous conclusion,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“We saw the ultimate consequence of a society encouraged to hate, scapegoat and fear minorities laid bare in the horrific military campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people in Myanmar,” said Salil Shetty.
World leaders abandon human rights, igniting protest movements globally
“The specters of hatred and fear now loom large in world affairs, and we have few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times. Instead, leaders such as al-Sisi, Duterte, Maduro, Putin, Trump and Xi are callously undermining the rights of millions,” said Salil Shetty.
“The feeble response to crimes against humanity and war crimes from Myanmar to Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen underscored the lack of leadership on human rights. Governments are shamelessly turning the clock back on decades of hard-won protections.”
Signs of regression cited in the report include clampdowns on rights to protest in France, and attempts to roll back women’s rights from the USA to Russia and Poland.
With the report launching in Washington D.C., Amnesty International warned that President Trump’s backward steps on human rights are setting a dangerous precedent for other governments to follow.
“Defenders of human rights around the world can look to the people of the United States to stand with them, even where the US government has failed. As President Trump takes actions that violate human rights at home and abroad, activists from across the country remind us that the fight for universal human rights has always been waged and won by people in their communities,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
Regressive policies have inspired many people to join long-standing struggles, and the report details many important victories that human rights activists helped to secure. These include lifting the total abortion ban in Chile, achieving a step towards marriage equality in Taiwan and securing a landmark victory against forced evictions in Abuja, Nigeria.
A vast Women’s March centered on the USA and with offshoots around the world showcased the growing influence of new social movements, as did the #MeToo phenomenon and Latin America’s “Ni Una Menos” – which denounced violence against women and girls.
“The indomitable spirit of the women leading powerful human rights movements reminds us that the desire for equality, dignity and justice will never be extinguished. There is a palpable sense that protest movements are on the rise globally. If governments stand against such movements, they will erode their legitimacy,” said Salil Shetty.