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There has been a lot of bad news lately on the human rights front.Liu's husband, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died of liver cancer last year, nearly eight years into an 11-year prison sentence in China for drafting a petition demanding democracy and respect for human rights. Liu's release amounts to a small but important step forward in the long and difficult march toward a world in which all people's basic human rights are protected – the ultimate objective of the international human rights movement.Amnesty began identifying "prisoners of conscience" – people imprisoned for peacefully expressing their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs, or for their cultural identity – all over the world.Their personal stories attracted attention to the human rights cause, and, by the late '70s, inspired the establishment of many organizations around the world that promote human rights on an ongoing basis.Forty years ago, I helped to create one such organization, Helsinki Watch, which evolved over the next several years into what is known today as Human Rights Watch.
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