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US Criticizes China, Burma, North Korean Rights Records

The United States criticized China's human rights record Thursday, raising concerns about restrictions that Beijing has imposed on citizens who question its policies.

The 2009 Human Rights Report issued by the U.S. State Department Thursday said the detention and harassment of human rights activists in China increased last year, and that public interest lawyers faced harassment and disbarment.

This annual rights review detailed reports of Tibetans suffering torture and forced labor after being repatriated from Nepal. It also noted the severe cultural and religious repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang region.

The State Department called North Korea's human rights record "deplorable," noting cases of extra-judicial killings, disappearances and arbitrary detention.

It raised similar concerns about extra-judicial killings in Burma, where the State Department said government forces also allowed disappearances, rape and torture.

The report criticized Cambodia's human rights record, accusing its security forces of acting with impunity.

On Laos, the report said the government infringed on citizens' right to privacy, and violated people's right to free speech, assembly and press.

Corruption among Thailand's police force came under attack in the report. The State Department also criticized Thailand's security personnel for using excessive force against criminal suspects.

The report said Vietnam's rights record remains problematic, as opposition movements were prohibited and press freedoms restricted.

The State Department gave rare praise to Indonesia's government, which it said generally respected citizens' human rights last year. The report said some problems persist, however, including killings by security forces, harsh prison conditions and corruption in the judicial system.