The world faces a watershed moment in human rights with tyrants and despots coming under increasing pressure from the internet, social networking sites and the activities of WikiLeaks, Amnesty International says in its annual roundup.
The rights group singles out WikiLeaks and the newspapers that pored over its previously confidential government files, among them the Guardian, as a catalyst in a series of uprisings against repressive regimes, notably the overthrow of Tunisia’s long-serving president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
“The year 2010 may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power and, in so doing, pushed for greater respect for human rights,” Amnesty’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, says in an introduction to the document. “It is also the year when repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days were numbered.”
But, Shetty adds, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, and elsewhere, remains unpredictable: “There is a serious fightback from the forces of repression. The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights.”