News / USA

    US Slams Unremitting Crackdown on Human Freedoms

    US Slams Unremitting Crackdown on Human Freedomsi
    X
    February 28, 2014 1:50 AM
    The United States says too many governments are "tightening their grasp" on basic human freedoms. The finding comes from the State Department's release of its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. As VOA's Jeff Seldin reports from the State Department, those named as the worst actors in the world come as no surprise.
    The United States says too many governments are "tightening their grasp" on basic human freedoms. The finding comes from the State Department's release of its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Those named as the worst actors in the world come as no surprise.

    The United States says nowhere was the disregard for human rights more blatant or horrible than Syria, where on April 21, 2013, the government dropped sarin gas on a suburb of Damascus.  More than 1,400 Syrians died, including 426 children.

    "We know that countries that deny human rights and human dignity challenge our interests as well as human interests," said Secretary of State John Kerry.

    The State Department reports also targeted other well-known human rights violators, like North Korea, slammed earlier this month by the United Nation's for what is described as Nazi-like crimes.

    And despite ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, Acting Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Uzra Zeya says problems remain there, too.

    "Torture, political imprisonment, executions in the absence of due process which have gone up under this government, harassment of ethnic and religious minorities and limits on free expression," said Zeya.

    In many places, the report said hopes for improvement were dashed by stubborn repression, like in China, where the government announced the end of its re-education camps, but cracked down on dissent on the Internet and on basic freedoms in Tibet, where 26 people set themselves on fire in protest.

    In Egypt, where hopes had risen with the Arab Spring, the State Department criticized the killings and torture that came with the military's continued crackdown on protesters.

    In Africa, officials noted grave concerns in South Sudan and in the Central African Republic, where Muslims and Christians engaged in a cycle of killings, disappearances, rape and torture.

    There is also alarm at the rate of sexual violence and discrimination against gays and lesbians in places like Uganda and Russia, where new laws make harassment easier and more dangerous.

    "We join with many other nations in reaffirming our commitment where speaking one’s mind does not lead to prosecution and where professing one’s love does not lead to persecution, a world where practicing one’s faith does not lead to imprisonment," said John Kerry.

    The State Department reports even raise concerns about worker's rights, noting the garment factory fire in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 people.

    "Despite documenting so much abuse and repression, U.S. officials insist there is hope pointing to the bravery of people in place like Ukraine, who took to the streets to stand up for change."

    As for places where standing up remains a challenge, like Venezuela, Secretary Kerry said those who struggle will not be alone.

    “The United States of America will continue to speak out, without a hint of arrogance or apology, on behalf of people who stand up for their universal rights," he said.

    The diplomat saying reports like these on human rights abuses will help ensure those responsible will be held accountable.

    Jeff Seldin

    Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wangchuk from: NY
    February 28, 2014 10:08 AM
    In Tibet, the Chinese Communist Party has set up a giant police state on the Tibetan Plateau where Tibetans have no genuine freedom & are treated as 2nd class citizens by the authorities. Hundreds of Tibetans are in prison for the political/religious views and over 120 Tibetans have self-immolated against Chinese colonialism and oppression. It's a humanitarian crisis the world has ignored b/c of China's economic wealth.

    by: pako from: pako
    February 27, 2014 6:35 PM
    Israel does to the Palestinians the Holocaust. So the Palestinians to fight Israel. Israel has sold a plot of the American language to justify this holocaust., And America was dragged to war and killed in these wars. America a huge advantage against Palestinians. Where in the World? Where is sanity? Why America will not impose sanctions on Israel?. Because interests?. America has fallen to the lies of Israel enough. America needs to work harder and start to take action against the crimes of Israel. America should not give up on the peace process. Kerry should keep pushing and pushing and pushing. Kerry did not need to address and take to heart the barking of the extreme right in Israel. Because that can not continue.

    by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
    February 27, 2014 5:11 PM
    The European Commision/Court of Human Rights was so corrupt there was even an Abba song about it. In Britain we have no human rights apart from just two clauses in Magna Carta to protect the people. "to no man sell, to no man deny right of justice"
    I have witnessed denial of right of justice, also I have witnessed right of justice sold here.(Swift v Babergh district council in the royal courts of justice 1992)
    In Response

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    February 28, 2014 6:31 AM
    I agree there are many countries which call themselves advanced and modern democratized contries yet selling weapons to earn money and benefits for themselves to countires which can not help suffering domestic conflicts. To worse the matter, these countries disguise themselves as world police holding up the banner of justice. It is a pity that they are not aware of their immatuarity, selfishness, unilateral decision, pushing others to their own sense of value. They must feel ashamed and change their claims and attitude when they learn eastern thoughts for example Toism. Thank you.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.