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Amnesty International Cites Human Rights Abuses in Asia


In its annual report, the human rights watchdog Amnesty International says many countries in Asia used the war on terror in 2005 to justify human-rights abuses.

Amnesty International says Pakistan, China, and Australia were notable in 2005 for restricting rights under the banner of anti-terrorism security measures.

In its annual global report, the London-based international rights group says Pakistan is guilty of arbitrary arrests, China has cracked down on ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang province by calling it a war on terror, and Australia has new counterterrorism legislation that allows detention of suspects without trial.

Mark Allison, researcher at Amnesty International's regional office in Hong Kong, says there are other prominent trouble spots in Asia too.

"I would include the situation in Nepal last year which was very serious, Afghanistan as well, which has been very neglected in terms of human rights by the international community as well, the very intractable human rights situations in for example Myanmar [Burma] and North Korea," he noted.

Amnesty says the military government in Burma, also known as Myanmar, remains one of the worst rights offenders in the world for the continued repression of ethnic minorities and political dissent.

The report slams North Korea for being "largely impervious" to international pressure to uphold basic rights, and committing violations such as torture, public executions, long-term political imprisonments and forced labor.

Nepal's king was severely criticized for assuming absolute power in 2005 in which he suspended civil liberties, ordered mass detentions and declared a state of emergency in the name of quelling a Maoist rebellion.

China came in for criticism on issues other than misusing the war on terrorism. Amnesty says its stellar economic growth is not resulting in better conditions for rural Chinese - who have been subjected to land grabs, and loss of health care and education.

Allison says now that China has become a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, it needs to step up to its international responsibilities.

"As China gains a much bigger role internationally because of its greater economic and political cloud it should be playing a much more positive role in terms of advocating for greater human rights standards in other countries," he added.

Amnesty says 26 countries in the Asia-Pacific region maintain the death penalty and the number of executions were high. China executed at least 1,700 people last year.

But the picture is not all gloomy. Amnesty says there was a remarkable level of human-rights activism in the region. The organization says grassroots human-rights defenders in countries such as Nepal, India, the Philippines, and China helped to advance economic, social, cultural and women's rights last year.

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