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Amnesty International Delivers Somber Assessment of Human Rights in East Asia


Amnesty International says East Asia's human rights development fell far short of acceptable standards in 2006, despite vibrant economic growth in the region. Joseph Popiolkowski reports for VOA from Hong Kong.

The human rights group's report for 2006 singles out China for increased harassment and repression of lawyers and journalists. Amnesty also says Beijing stepped up its crackdown on religious worshippers.

The report criticizes India, for justifying detention and torture in order to maintain security.

Smaller Asia Pacific nations, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma, were noted as places where political turmoil has led to violations of human rights.

In Sri Lanka, peace talks with the rebel Tamil Tiger group collapsed, leading to thousands of deaths, disappearances and displacements.

Madhu Malhotra, deputy program director for Amnesty's Asia Pacific Regional Program, says the breakneck growth of Asian economic powerhouses such as China and India cannot be sustained without a commitment to human rights.

"India and China need to take human rights as seriously as they take economic progress and political power," said Mahotra. "Unless they do so, large numbers of the Asian population will be left behind and there will be conflict, division and insecurity that will mar Asia's economic success."

The report, released Wednesday, is Amnesty's annual look at the state of human rights world wide. It is a mostly somber assessment, taking aim at countries around the globe, in both the developed and the developing world.

But it is not without its bright spots.

Nepal began a mostly peaceful transition to democracy in 2006 after years of armed conflict.

And the report says grassroots human rights workers 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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