News / USA

State Dept. Rights Report: Murder in Syria, Progress in Burma

State Dept. Human Rights Report: Murder in Syria, Progress in Burmai
X
April 20, 2013 2:53 AM
The U.S. State Department Friday released its annual report on human rights around the world. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration is calling for the protection of rights regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability.
The U.S. State Department Friday released its annual report on human rights around the world.  Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration is calling for the protection of rights regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability.

As he released this year's Human Rights Report, Secretary Kerry said one of the bright spots is Burma, where democratic reform and better human rights protections are ending years of isolation.

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 19, 2013, where he released the 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 19, 2013, where he released the 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
x
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 19, 2013, where he released the 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 19, 2013, where he released the 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
"Has it reached where we want it to be? No. But it's on the road. It's moving," he said. "And by starting to embrace universal rights, the Burmese government has opened the doors to a stronger partnership with their neighborhood and with countries around the world."

The report says Burma still faces many challenges including corruption and political prisoners.

"But if Burma’s leaders stay focused on promoting and protecting the rights of all people in their country, Burma is likely to continue along a promising path of renewal," Kerry said.

In the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights report says "the hope of the early days of the Arab Awakening has run up against the harsh realities of incomplete and contested transitions."

"Where entrenched regimes have been swept out and new governments have been slow to guarantee those rights and protect the most vulnerable and build accountable, democratic institutions, we still see resistance in this part of the world," Kerry said.

Including Syria, where the United States is backing opponents of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

"In Syria, Assad is desperately clinging to power, responding to the cries of freedom with murder and mayhem and more bloodshed," said Kerry. "The vision of so many who have fought and sacrificed across the region will never be released if their human rights are denied or ignored."

In Tibet, the human rights report says the number of Buddhist self-immolations last year was more than six times that of 2011.  It says authorities repressed Tibet’s unique religious and cultural heritage by "strictly curtailing the civil rights of China’s ethnic Tibetan population."

In Iran, the report says the government continued its crackdown on civil society by arresting journalists, students, lawyers, artists, and ethnic and religious activists -- with security forces committing acts of politically motivated violence and repression, including torture, beatings, and rape.

Kerry says the United States promotes human rights not simply because it is the right thing to do but because it is tied to security.

"Countries where strong human rights prevail are countries where people do better, economies thrive, rule of law is stronger, governments are more effective and more responsive, and they are countries that lead on the world stage and project stability across their regions," he said.

The report noted a shrinking space for civil society activism around the world -- especially in Russia where new laws increase fines for unauthorized protests, limit Internet freedoms, and dramatically expand the definition of treason.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs