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US Rights Report Singles out Iran, Russia, China over Abuses

US Rights Report Singles out Iran, Russia, China over Abuses

Friday, 20 April, 2018 - 19:30
Thousands of people rally in support of Iranian anti-government protests in Los Angeles, Ca, Jan. 7, 2018. (Reuters)

The United States accused on Friday Iran and North Korea of committing rights abuses amounting to a global threat.

Washington's annual global human rights report also labelled China and Russia as "forces of instability”, grouping them with Iran and North Korea.

Acting secretary of state John Sullivan announced the report, which this year is focused on destabilizing abuses by state actors.

"The 2017 US National Security Strategy recognizes that corrupt and weak governance threatens global stability and US interests. Some governments are unable to maintain security and meet the basic needs of their people, while others are simply unwilling," he wrote, in the report's preface.

"States that restrict freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly; that allow and commit violence against members of religious, ethnic, and other minority groups; or that undermine the fundamental dignity of persons are morally reprehensible and undermine our interests," he wrote.

"The governments of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, for example, violate the human rights of those within their borders on a daily basis and are forces of instability as a result."

The theocratic Shi’ite government in Iran is responsible for executing “a high number” of prisoners for crimes that don't merit the death penalty, the report said, along with torture, jailing of dissidents, severe curbs on journalists and religious minorities.

It also accused Iran of taking few steps to investigate, prosecute or punish any officials who committed the abuses, citing a widespread pattern of impunity for offenders.

In addition, it said that through its support for Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad and Iraqi Shi’ite militias, Iran "materially contributed" to rights abuses in Syria and Iraq.

Assad’s regime is accused of widespread atrocities, including chemical weapons attacks on civilians using sarin and chlorine — two agents the US has said were used in this month's attack near Damascus that led the US, France and the UK to launch airstrikes.

The report also accused the regime of starving civilians, "thousands of cases of torture," attacking hospitals and raping children "as a weapon of war."

The report said Beijing is responsible for arbitrary detentions, executions without due process and coerced confessions of prisoners as well as forced disappearances and "significant restrictions" on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion and movement.

In the "coercion in population control" section, the report said that China enforces "a coercive birth-limitation policy that in some cases included sterilization or abortions.

"China continues to spread the worst features of its authoritarian system," Sullivan told reporters on Friday.

Moscow was lambasted in the report for allowing a "climate of impunity" for human rights abuses and doing little to punish officials who violate basic rights.

The report laments Russia's "authoritarian political system dominated by President Vladimir Putin," in contrast with Trump's reluctance to criticize Putin or the Kremlin directly.

The list of alleged transgressions by Russia is long. The report alleged that Russia allows "systematic" torture that sometimes leads to death.

Russia's "lack of judicial independence," crackdowns on journalists and political dissidents, and censorship on the internet and of foreign organizations was also sharply criticized.

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