Yeonmi Park: Modern Human Rights Activist

Human rights activists are people who work to better the lives of other human beings. They work to defend the rights of people who have had their rights taken away or do not have their own voice to speak out with. Around the world, human rights activists are recognized as those who work to defend and protect others. There are many awards given globally that support what human rights activists do. Awards such as The Nobel Peace Prize, The Human Rights Defenders Tulip, The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and several others are given out in recognition to those who have championed for the rights of other humans.

The United Nations recognizes human rights activists and has adopted a Declaration which helps to support and protect those who defend the rights of humans. The Declaration works to protect human rights activists working all over the world. It was adopted in 1998 and is the first Declaration made by the UN that actively protects and recognizes the importance of what human rights activists do. There are certain rights that are protected under this declaration and they include the right to advocate for better rights; the right to create, develop, and discuss those rights; the right to criticize government agencies and lobby for a change; the right to have legal assistance for your causes; the right to a fair trial; and the right to have access to resources that will help defend human rights.

There are many famous people that are also notable human rights activists. Some of the more famous activists include Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, Angelina Jolie-Pitt, Hillary Clinton, Martin Luther King Jr, Zack de la Rocha, Michael Bolton, and Joan Baez. One of the leading human rights activists emerging recently is former North Korean resident Yeonmi Park. Yeonmi Park is a young defector from the notoriously oppressed country of North Korea. She was born in the country and grew up being taught what to think, say, and feel. She also learned at a young age that any offense against the government could lead to severe punishments. Her father was found smuggling metals to China and was sentenced to a hard labor camp where he was tortured. Their family soon realized that they needed to escape the brutal country in order to survive. Yeonmi Park, her mother, and her sister all crossed the river into China where they endured hardships that almost cost them their lives. Eventually the three made it to safety and are now refugees living in South Korea.

Now, Yeonmi is 21-years-old and is becoming a voice for those still left in the dictatorship who are being tortured and starving. She has hope that the Western culture and media is slowly infiltrating into the country and will eventually bring down the Kim dynasty. Yeonmi is speaking out against the country that tortures and oppresses their citizens in hope of seeing a change for it’s people.