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The protection of human rights defenders is an important priority for Norway. Such protection is closely linked to freedom of expression, the right to assembly and the freedom of religion or belief. Governments should safeguard an enabling environment for all, instead of limiting the space for political opposition, human rights defenders, media workers and religious minorities.
In some countries, freedom of expression and assembly are critically limited if views are not in line with the official opinion. We encourage Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan to allow the rights of expression and freedom of assembly without the risk of reprisals. We urge them to uphold national and international human rights laws, and respect fundamental freedoms.
Moreover, the right to freedom of religion or belief was also stressed in the joint letter to the Human Rights Council President and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in July regarding the situation in Xinjiang, China.
Furthermore, we have witnessed large numbers of citizens peacefully exercising their fundamental right of assembly and freedom of expression. Some of them have been imprisoned, persecuted and become victims of serious reprisals. We encourage Russia and Turkey to fully respect the right to assembly and freedom of expression, and we call on Nicaragua and Uganda to respect these rights without resorting to violence. States must refrain from responding violently to the right to peaceful protest. Any attack on journalists, media workers and human rights defenders is unacceptable, and all such acts should be prosecuted.