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Freedom of Expression

December 22nd, 2010

Speaking out for peace, justice and liberty can be a dangerous thing. Just speaking out against oppression of the authorities can mean jail, banishment or even death but this has not discouraged many individuals from doing so.

In 1948, on December 10, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to promote the universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. There are now 192 member states in the United Nations. All member states have to comply with the declaration but many countries continue to violate it.

The Nobel Peace award this December is a reminder of the importance of the 62-year-old document on human rights. This year it was awarded to Liu Xiaobo from China but he was not able to receive the honour personally.

He is serving a 12-year prison sentence in a Chinese prison. His crime is freedom of expression. He spoke out for a more open and democratic form of government for the Chinese people. China, of course, is an economic giant today but there are many voices of dissent there.

Last Saturday, December 11, for the third consecutive year, The Annexe Gallery in Kuala Lumpur had an awards ceremony for the Annexe Heroes Freedom of Expression Awards 2010.

This is also another commemoration of the existence of the Human Rights declaration. It was a modest event compared to the internationally renowned Nobel award ceremony. But it was just as significant.

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