Protest: Release Human Rights Defenders in China

Protest: Release Human Rights Defenders in China
Protest: Release Human Rights Defenders in China

The Newseum displays a series of banners on the front of its building at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street that call on the Chinese government to respect basic human rights and release journalists and dissidents currently imprisoned by the government.

The Newseum is a public charity funded by individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum.

The banners were produced in partnership with international human rights and journalism organizations, which provided the slogans.

The banners will be on display during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington later this week. They can be seen on the front of the Newseum, next to the 74-foot-tall marble etching of the 45 words of the First Amendment.

The graphics were illustrated by a Chinese calligrapher. The slogans include “Release Human Rights Defenders in China,” “Long Live Freedom, Long Live Democracy,” “Lift Restrictions, Free the Press,” and “Chinese Government Should Respect Human Rights.”

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In front of the museum, photos of journalists and dissidents who are currently imprisoned by China’s government fill the cases normally reserved for the museum’s Today’s Front Pages exhibit.

Inside the Newseum, a bronze reproduction of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue, a powerful icon of the 1989 pro-democracy movement led by students in China, is on display.

The statue stood for just five days before being toppled by Chinese armed forces clearing protesters from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Hundreds of protesters were killed.

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The prominent displays are one element of what the Newseum is calling “Freedom Week,” a six-day series of programs and panel discussions covering a range of international issues from religious persecution to the wrongful imprisonment of journalists.

The museum, which works to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment, is a popular destination prominently located halfway between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, where President Xi will attend a state dinner on Friday evening.

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“Freedom Week highlights our strong belief that all people should be able to speak truth to power without fear of government retribution,” said Jeffrey Herbst, president and CEO of the Newseum. “While the banners on the front of our building are temporary, the freedoms that permit their display are permanent, universal and are a fundamental human right.”

Throughout the week, the Newseum will host daily public programs in its Knight TV Studio featuring experts on a range of topics related to free expression, journalism and human rights.

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Rakesh Raman