On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., issued the following statement after the U.S. State Department published its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices:
“The U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report is a critical tool used to shine a spotlight on egregious violations of human rights around the world. As Americans who are blessed to live in this great country, we have a moral obligation and a strong national security interest to defend and promote the fundamental rights of all people.
“This year’s report paints a tragic picture of human rights abuses occurring in every corner of the globe. From Moscow to Caracas, Beijing to Havana, and Tehran to Pyongyang, it is clear that many of the most fundamental freedoms are under assault.
“In Russia, Putin and his corrupt regime continue to demonstrate that they will stop at nothing to silence members of the opposition and anyone who exercises his or her right to free speech. In Iran, innocent citizens are arbitrarily detained and executed. In Belarus, dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenko has arbitrarily disqualified or jailed key opposition figures.
“In the Western Hemisphere, nations such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua remain under the grip of tyrants and continue to repress the most basic rights of their citizens. From the censorship of the San Isidro Movement to the new wave of repression against anyone in Cuba who listens to the anti-Castro Patria Y Vida, the Díaz-Canel and Castro regime continues to violate the basic rights of the Cuban people, members of the free press, and dissidents on the island. In Venezuela, the Maduro narco-regime continues to rely on former convicts and the SEBIN to repress the Venezuelan people and anyone who questions their despotic nature.”
“And it is hard to point to a regime more nefarious than the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Tragically, American companies conducting business in China continue to be directly and indirectly complicit in its abuses. The CCP is crushing long-cherished freedoms in Hong Kong, stomping out Tibetan religion and culture, silencing dissidents and journalists, and committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
“The CCP’s heinous crimes against Uyghurs include mass internment, forced sterilization, sexual violence, forced abortion, forced labor, and more. It is for these reasons that the U.S. Senate should quickly pass the Rubio-Merkley Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to ensure goods made with Uyghur forced labor do not enter our supply chains.
“While the report can be a depressing outlook on the state of global affairs, there are so many brave individuals risking their lives to expose corruption, peacefully protesting brutal regimes, and standing up for their people. Their courage should inspire us all. The United States must reflect on its ability to be a beacon of light to the darkest corners of the globe. We must find ways to be a voice for the voiceless and use the tools we have to hold those responsible for human rights violations accountable.
“It is no coincidence that the countries on this list also represent serious national security threats to America and our allies. America remains the greatest country on Earth, and, if we are to be that shining city on a hill that President Reagan so eloquently described during the Cold War, the time for moral leadership and courage to defend human rights everywhere is now.”
Rubio is the lead Republican on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.