03/12/2008, 00.00
ASIA

Most human rights violations in Asia

State Department’s 2007 annual report fingers repressive North Korea and monk-killing Myanmar as the worst offenders. Iran is blamed among others things for stoning adulterers to death. Human rights violations are systemic in China where journalists, dissidents and even their lawyers are threatened and arrested.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Asia is the continent with the most human rights violations, this according to the 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices by the United States Department of State. According to the survey, the “countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world's most systematic human rights violators.” Kim Jong-il’s North Korea tops the list. His regime controls all aspects of citizens’ lives—in the secretive state extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and arbitrary detention, including of political prisoners, continue.

Myanmar’s military junta comes in second place. In September, security forces killed at least 30 demonstrators and detained over 3,000 others during a brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, including monks and protesters.

In Iran the theocratic regime continues to deny freedom of speech and assembly and has intensified its crackdown against dissidents, journalists, women’s rights activists, labour activists, and ethnic minorities. It also supports Islamist terrorist groups active in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Adulterers are stoned to death.

Syria’s human rights record worsened this year. The Baa‘thist regime detained an increasing number of dissidents and activists on spurious grounds such as “weakening the national sentiment during the time of war.”

Also on the Top Ten worst offenders list are Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus and Uzbekistan. The recently re-elected Uzbek President Islam Karimov successfully eliminated his domestic opposition through arrest and systematic torture. Eritrea and Sudan follow.

China is not among the ten worst states for 2007 after being fingered as one of the worst violators in the State Department's 2006 and 2005 reports.

Despite the apparent improvement, China was still classified among authoritarian countries that are undergoing economic reform and rapid social change, but which “have not undertaken democratic political reform.” In fact it still continues to deny its citizens basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“Controls were tightened on religious freedom in Tibetan areas and in the Xingjian Uighur Autonomous Region and the treatment of petitioners in Beijing worsened,” the report said. “The government also continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison activists, writers, journalists, and defence lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under the law.”

State Department sources said that the top ten list is only indicative, but Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch noted that “the human rights situation in China is actually certainly not improving. In particular, “there are abuses [. . .] now taking place specifically because China is hosting the Olympics” and wants first to control dissidents and activists.

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