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Over the past two weeks, the United States has been rocked by protests (peaceful and sometimes violent) surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers which has been called by all corners of the political spectrum as a severe human rights violation. Some of the subsequent national protests have been violently repressed by law enforcement and in some places, the United States military has been used to disperse protesters and protect monuments. On Monday, June 1, in a highly controversial move, law enforcement officers used tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters outside the White House so that President Trump could take a photo at the nearby damaged St John’s Episcopal Church.
Authoritarian regimes have ironically condemned the United States, including some of the world’s worst human rights violators like China, Iran and North Korea. But what is different than protests in America versus these countries is that American protests are broadcast for the world to see. That cannot be said for China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and many other repressive regimes. Activists in those countries are shut down, jailed and killed, never to attain justice:
- Iran brutal suppression of protesters in 2019
- Chinese refusal to allow protests marking 31st Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre
- Venezuela police attacks on protesters
The world is reacting to the United States because we are held to a higher standard. We have been the standard-bearer for the fight for global democracy and human rights for a generation. When the world sees that we too are struggling with injustice and inequity, the world notices, for better or for worse. The difference is our institutions guarantee a free press, rule of law and freedom to protest.
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