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Bush Declares December 10th Human Rights Day in US - 2003-12-11


President Bush has officially declared December 10th as Human Rights Day in the United States with a call for freedom and democracy in every nation.

Mr. Bush said in a proclamation Wednesday that the United States will continue to press countries like Burma to release political prisoners and open talks with the opposition. The president also said he looks forward to the day when North Koreans can live in a free society.

The president went on to say America has helped bring liberty to Afghanistan and Iraq. He said Americans stand with those who still struggle for democracy in countries like Belarus, Cuba and Zimbabwe.

The statement came as nations around the world marked International Human Rights Day.

In Britain, three prominent groups used the occasion to call on the world's leading powers to support a treaty to control the sale of conventional weapons - worth billions of dollars each year.

Representatives of Amnesty International, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms say conventional weapons kill more than half-a-million people annually.

The groups say countries that supply arms have an obligation to make sure the weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

A survey by the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva says that five countries--Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States --produce nearly 90 percent of all the world's arms.

Oxfam President Mary Robinson says the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have the responsibility to stop weapons sales to human rights abusers, repressive governments and criminals.

Information for this report is provided by the White House Press Release.

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