News / USA

US Human Rights Report Hits Conditions in Iran, China, North Korea

The U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights world-wide issued Thursday cited an upsurge in efforts to restrict access to the Internet and other new communications means, and escalating persecution of vulnerable minorities. The report was sharply critical of the rights performance of several countries including China, North Korea and Iran.

The massive two million-word report, covering 194 countries, is mandated under a 1976 act of Congress and was originally intended to guide U.S. lawmakers on foreign aid decisions.

But introducing the latest report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the document has become the most comprehensive record available on the condition of human rights around the world.

"These reports are an essential tool for activists who courageously struggle to protect rights in communities around the world, for journalists and scholars who document rights violations and who report on the work of those who champion the vulnerable, and for governments including our own, as they work to craft strategies to encourage protection of human rights of more individuals in more places," Clinton said.

Clinton said principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are a "North Star" (eds: guiding light) for the Obama administration's foreign and human rights policies.

The report itself, covering events in 2009, levels harsh criticism at some familiar sources of U.S. concern.

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Richard Posner said the human rights situation in Iran worsened after disputed presidential elections.  

"In Iran, an already poor human rights situation rapidly deteriorated after the June elections," Posner said. "At least 45 people were killed in clashes, thousands were arrested, another thousand were arrested in demonstration in December. It is a place where are continuing to see severe repression of dissent and are continuing to pay great attention."

Iran was also cited for discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused of fueling anti-semitism.

China was similarly faulted for increased repression of Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs.

Citing the prosecution and jailing of prominent Chinese democracy advocates, Assistant Secretary Posner said pressure on civil society groups challenging Beijing government policies is on the rise.

"In the last several years, more public interest, human rights, environmental lawyers have been taking cases, law clinics are springing up," Posner said. "There seems to be a real crackdown, and there are also greater restrictions on NGO's."

China was among some 25 countries said to have imposed restrictions on the ability of non-governmental groups to register and operate, and among those restricting the Internet and other new media.

Posner said the situation in neighboring North Korea was far more bleak.

"It's probably one of the most closed societies in the world. So across the board, I would say conditions are poor, they're not getting better, and we continue to be very mindful of the plight of the North Korean people living in that circumstance," Posner said.

The report also took aim at media curbs in Russia and Venezuela.

Yet Posner noted positive human rights trends in a number of countries including Georgia, Ukraine, Bhutan, the Maldives and Liberia, where the government has set up a truth and reconciliation commission in the aftermath of years of civil conflict.

While the U.S. human rights record is not assessed, the report noted that the United States will submit to its first periodic review before the U.N. Human Rights Council later this year.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs