Modern Day Human Rights Activism

October 3rd, 2015

In the last 20 years or so, human rights activism has become something of a hot topic. A human rights activist, sometimes referred to as a human rights defender, is someone that will stand alone or with a group of people to spread awareness or protect some scope of human rights. Human rights are guidelines that are universally set for the behavior of people towards one another. They’re considered something that all people should have, and they should never be taken away for any reason. Most human rights activists consider them to be equal for everyone in all parts of the world no matter their religion, language, ethnicity or nation. Human rights help to prevent and protect against torture, unlawful imprisonment and execution without due process.

In 1998, the United Nations adopted a standard for global human rights called the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The decree was written to help protect and promote worldwide fundamental freedoms and human rights. The declaration was a milestone in the fight for the protection of people that are trying to carry out the message that everyone should have basic rights and freedoms. It was also historical because it was the first time the United Nations recognized the value of the people that are carrying on in the fight for human rights, and it also was the first time importance was placed on their protection. Despite the declaration and the increased awareness due to technological advances, there are still many places where human rights are a serious issue.

North Korea is one such place that seems not to care about human rights at all. There are many human rights activists on the issue of North Korea, but the best known is probably Yeonmi Park. Park came from a well to do family by North Korean standards. Her father was considered wealthy and well connected, and she and her family lived well and were well educated. All that changed during the gigantic economic collapse of the nation in the 1990s. Her father was forced to smuggle precious metals for food into China. When he was caught, he was sent to a labor camp, and Park and her family faced a serious crises. It wasn’t long before they were literally starving, and they finally decided to defect from North Korea to South Korea. Since it is impossible for anyone to cross the border between North and South Korea, Park and her family, like most defectors, fled towards China to begin their long, arduous journey to the south.

Park’s story is a very sad one. She and her mother had to rely on human traffickers to get them through China, and she witnessed her mother get raped and beaten on several occasions. Finally, she was able to make it into Mongolia and then on to South Korea. Yeonmi Park of has now become one of the most well known human rights activists in the world in the areas of human trafficking and North Korea, and her voice is one that North Korea would like to silence.

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