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12 Prominent Human Rights Campaigners Of 2012

Human rights advocates have had a busy year defending fundamental rights and freedoms amid armed conflicts, government crackdowns, and repressive new laws. To mark Human Rights Day on December 10, RFE/RL profiles some of 2012's most vocal democracy and human rights advocates.

<b>Aung San Suu Kyi, opposition politician, Burma. Freed.</b> Suu Kyi has spearheaded the pro-democracy movement in Burma (aka Myanmar) for more than two decades. She spent some 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and her release in 2010. She won a seat in parliament this year following reforms introduced by Burma's military rulers. In November, she received U.S. President Barack Obama at her home during his historic visit to Burma. Her tireless campaign for democracy has earned her numerous awards, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
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<b>Aung San Suu Kyi, opposition politician, Burma. Freed.</b> Suu Kyi has spearheaded the pro-democracy movement in Burma (aka Myanmar) for more than two decades. She spent some 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and her release in 2010. She won a seat in parliament this year following reforms introduced by Burma's military rulers. In November, she received U.S. President Barack Obama at her home during his historic visit to Burma. Her tireless campaign for democracy has earned her numerous awards, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

&lt;b&gt;Chen Guangcheng, civil rights activist, China. Freed, self-exiled. &lt;/b&gt;The blind, self-taught lawyer rose to international fame after exposing abuses tied to China&#39;s single-child policy, including forced late-term abortions and sterilizations. After a four-year stint in prison, Chen escaped from house arrest in April 2012 and sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, sparking a diplomatic row. The following month he was able to emigrate to the United States with his wife and two daughters.
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<b>Chen Guangcheng, civil rights activist, China. Freed, self-exiled. </b>The blind, self-taught lawyer rose to international fame after exposing abuses tied to China's single-child policy, including forced late-term abortions and sterilizations. After a four-year stint in prison, Chen escaped from house arrest in April 2012 and sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, sparking a diplomatic row. The following month he was able to emigrate to the United States with his wife and two daughters.

&lt;b&gt;Ales Byalyatski, opposition leader, Belarus. Jailed. &lt;/b&gt;Byalyatski is currently serving a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence. The charges of tax evasion leveled against him have been condemned in the West as politically motivated. Byalyatski founded Belarus&#39;s first pro-democracy movement, the Belarus Popular Front, and heads its most influential rights group, the Vyasna (Spring) Human Rights Center. He was a finalist for the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
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<b>Ales Byalyatski, opposition leader, Belarus. Jailed. </b>Byalyatski is currently serving a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence. The charges of tax evasion leveled against him have been condemned in the West as politically motivated. Byalyatski founded Belarus's first pro-democracy movement, the Belarus Popular Front, and heads its most influential rights group, the Vyasna (Spring) Human Rights Center. He was a finalist for the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

&lt;b&gt;Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer, Iran. Jailed.&lt;/b&gt; Sotoudeh has actively defended opposition prisoners, women, and juveniles facing the death penalty. She is currently serving a six-year sentence on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. She was one of the recipients of the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
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<b>Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer, Iran. Jailed.</b> Sotoudeh has actively defended opposition prisoners, women, and juveniles facing the death penalty. She is currently serving a six-year sentence on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. She was one of the recipients of the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

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