“I believe that nations are stronger and more successful when they uphold human rights. We speak out for these rights not because we think our own country is perfect—no nation is—not because we think every country should do as we do because each nation has to follow its own path. But we will speak out on behalf of human rights because we believe they are the birthright of every human being. And we know that democracy can flourish in Asia because we’ve seen it thrive from Japan and South Korea to Taiwan. Across this region we see citizens reaching to shape their own futures. And freedom of speech and assembly, and the right to organize peacefully in civil society without harassment or fear of arrest or disappearing we think makes a country stronger. A free press that can expose abuse and injustice makes a country stronger. And access to information and an open Internet where people can learn and share ideas makes a country stronger. An independent judiciary that upholds the rule of law, and free and fair elections so that citizens can choose their own leaders—these are all the rights that we seek for all people. We believe that societies are more stable and just when they recognize the inherent dignity of every human being—the dignity of being able to live and pray as you choose, so that Muslims know they are a part of Myanmar’s future, and Christians and Buddhists have the right to freely worship in China. The dignity of being treated equally under the law so that no matter where you come from or who you love or what you look like, you are respected. And the dignity of a healthy life—because no child should ever die from hunger or a mosquito bite, or the poison of dirty water. This is the justice that we seek in the world. And finally we believe that the ties between our nations must be rooted in friendship and trust between our peoples.” Barack Obama from his speech in Laos

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