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US Criticizes Wide-Ranging Rights Abuses

The United States says it remains "deeply concerned" about Iran's crackdown on opposition groups, while criticizing Russia and China for failing to protect rights activists and minorities.

U.S. diplomat Douglas Griffiths, in an address to the United Nations' Human Rights Council in Geneva, voiced U.S. concern Tuesday about abuses in more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, Cuba, and Sri Lanka.

Griffiths accused Tehran of wrongdoing in the crackdown on opposition groups following disputed presidential elections in June. He cited reports of scores of protester deaths and hundreds of arrests.

He also voiced alarm about the killings of rights activists and journalists in Russia's North Caucasus, and called for a transparent probe into the unsolved murder of noted Chechen rights activist Natalya Estemirova.

The diplomat also urged China to respect the safety and legal rights of all Chinese citizens.

Those comments focused on recent rioting in Xinjiang province between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese that killed nearly 200 people.

Griffiths also told the 47-nation council that Washington can not remain indifferent when constitutional and democratic systems are undermined in such places as Fiji and Honduras.

He cited reports of widespread voting irregularities in Afghanistan's recent presidential elections, and criticized Sri lanka for legislation he says equates disagreement over government policy with treason.

Griffiths made no mention of Israel and the Palestinian Authority Tuesday. But the Associated Press says U.S. officials are expected to take the floor next week when the council debates a report it commissioned on the latest Gaza conflict. The U.S. State Department has already said it considers the report's conclusions unfair to Israel.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.