Human Rights Violations

Throughout history, the rights of humans have frequently been abused. Human rights are the rights and liberties that are guaranteed to everyone from birth. After World War II, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Right, which stated that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and that everyone has the right to a nationality, religion and his or her own opinion (Document 1). Despite the horrors of the Holocaust, abuses of human rights have continued in the post-World War II era.


One of the major abuses of human rights in the post-World War II era was the Apartheid in South Africa. After South Africa won its independence from Great Britain, the Afrikaner Nationalist party gained a whites-only parliament. The Nationalists set up a system of apartheid, or complete segregation of the races. Under this system, blacks needed permission to travel, and had to carry a pass when doing so (Document 2). Other Apartheid laws also created many segregated facilities, and denied blacks the right to vote. The Apartheid violated many guidelines of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Through the years, world attention focused on South Africa. In 1973, the UN General Assemble declared apartheid a crime against humanity. And in 1977, the UN Security Council embargoed arms exports to South Africa.Throughout the 1980s, many nations enforced economic sanctions against South Africa. These economic sanctions, along with other statutes, led to Nelson Mandel being released from prison in 1990. During the next four years, newly elected president of South Africa Frederick de Klerk, along with Nelson Mandela, dismantled the system of apartheid. In 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black present of South Africa, in the first all-race election (Document 3).


Another infringement of human rights occurred in Cambodia in the 1970s. During this time, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rough took control of Cambodia. During his rule, Pol Pot attempted to create an agrarian society. The Khmer Rouge executed any former government officials, army personnel and intellectuals. The Khmer Rouge also killed many Cambodians by using forced labor, and drove people from the cities and settled them in the country. Countless families were torn apart, and educational and religious practices were forbidden. Numerous bodies were deposited in mass graves, called the killing fields. From 1975 to 1978, between one and three million Cambodians, out of a population on seven million, were killed by the Khmer Rouge (Document 4).


During the 1980s and 1990s, violations of rights occurred in China. Deng Xiaoping introduced the Four Modernizations in the 1970s, which gave more political freedom to citizens. Although these freedoms were granted, some Chinese wanted more freedom. On June 4, 1989, Chinese students held a peaceful demonstration in Tiananmen Square for greater personal freedoms. When the students refused to clear out, tanks rolled through Tiananmen Square, shooting at the heads and chests of the students. Newspapers, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, gave information on the rights violations in China. It also stated how students felt it was worth sacrificing their lives for the sake of progress and democracy in China. The Chinese government has since made very little changes in the amount of freedom it allows (Document 5).


Human rights violations have continued in the post-World War II era. These violations have occurred in South Africa, Cambodia and China, as well as in other nations. During this era, the UN, NATO and Amnesty International have made efforts to eradicate human rights violations. As a result of their efforts, the public has been more aware of what occurs, and can further aid in ending human rights violations.

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