The U.S. State Department has released its annual report -- Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2005-2006. "Today, in growing numbers across the globe," says the report, "men and women are pressing for their rights to be respected and their governments to be responsive, for their voices to be heard and their votes to count, for just laws and justice for all." The report summarizes U.S. strategy in every region and describes what the U.S. did to support indigenous reform efforts in 95 countries over the past year.
This month, women in Kuwait voted for the first time in a by-election for a seat on a municipal council. This development comes after Kuwait's national assembly passed a law in 2005 granting women the right to vote and run for office. The State Department reports says, "Parliamentary elections in 2007 are expected to mark the first time in Kuwait’s history that women will fully participate in the political process." And in 2005, says the report, Iraqis "went to the polls three times and held to democracy's course despite high levels of violence."
Elsewhere, "the men and women of Afghanistan cast their ballots in the first free legislative elections since 1969." Elections in Liberia resulted in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becoming Africa's first elected female head of state. In 2005, Ukraine's new government improved its human rights record. And in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, "for the first time, citizens directly elected their leaders at the city. . . .and provincial levels."
Barry Lowenkron, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Humans Rights, and Labor, says the United States "has acted in support of these and other indigenous efforts for human rights and democracy":
"By on-the-ground interaction with government officials, civil society organizations and individuals, and through multilateral engagement, we have defended international human rights standards and advanced democratic principles."
President George W. Bush says, "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know, the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors." He says, "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.