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Rights Group Condemns Conditions Across Asia

The group Human Rights Watch released its annual World Report Sunday, painting a bleak picture of conditions across much of Asia.

HRW said Burma's human rights situation remained dire last year, despite the transition to a military-backed civilian government. The report accuses Burma's military of rape, torture and the killing of civilians in ethnic minority conflict zones, marring the government's recent political reforms.

The group accuses China's one-party government of imposing sharp curbs on freedom of expression, association and religion, and openly rejecting judicial independence and press freedom. Meanwhile, the document says Chinese citizens are increasingly rights-conscious and challenging authorities over abuses of power and corruption.

North Korea was accused of systematically violating the basic rights of its population through arbitrary arrest, lack of due process, torture and ill-treatment of detainees. The group said Pyongyang practices collective punishment for various offenses for which it enslaves hundreds of thousands of its citizens in prison camps, and periodically executes people for hoarding food, stealing and other so-called anti-socialist crimes.

HRW also detailed what it views as severe violations of human rights in nations including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.