, WASHINGTON, Mar 12 – The United States on Thursday said China and Iran\’s rights record had worsened as it raised the alarm about growing anti-Semitism worldwide and the discrimination of Muslims in Europe.
In its annual report on human rights for 194 countries, the State Department also denounced North Korea\’s "deplorable" record, "egregious" abuses in Myanmar as well as "numerous and serious" violations in Cuba.
Chinese authorities pressed on with the repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the western region where China\’s Han majority engaged last year in deadly clashes with local Uighurs.
It said "the detention and harassment of human rights activists increased, and public interest lawyers and law firms that took on cases deemed sensitive by the government faced harassment, disbarment and closure."
China also imposed "tight government controls" on Ticapitalfmnewns, who faced restrictions on practicing their religion and severe repercussions if they tried to escape to Nepal, the State Department said Thursday.
Meanwhile, speculation is mounting that the US Treasury will soon label China a currency "manipulator" in a forthcoming semi-annual report — another US government finding likely to rankle Beijing.
The report said "the situation in the North Caucasus region of Russia worsened as the government fought insurgents, Islamist militants, and criminal forces."
It cited reports saying both sides "engaged in killings, torture, abuse, violence, politically motivated abductions, and other brutal or humiliating treatment."
The State Department slammed North Korea\’s human rights record as "deplorable," saying Kim Jong-Il\’s reclusive Stalinist regime engages in summary executions, torture, forced abortions and infanticide.
The report said the junta in Myanmar continued its "egregious human rights violations and abuses during the year," including increased military attacks in ethnic minority regions, such as in the Karen and Shan states.
It also continued to imprison and abuse its political opponents.
The State Department said Iran\’s already "poor human rights record degenerated" in 2009, particularly with a deadly security crackdown after disputed presidential elections in June.
Aside from human rights, the United States is seriously concerned about Iran\’s and North Korea\’s nuclear ambitious.
Iran was also cited as a key example of governments that fuel anti-Semitism, often under a new guise of denouncing Zionism or Israeli policies. Egypt, a US ally, was also blamed.
"Traditional and new forms of anti-Semitism continued to arise," particularly after Israel launched its three-week offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on December 27, 2008, the report said.
The State Department expressed "growing concern" over discrimination against Muslims in Europe, citing in particular a ban on construction of minarets in Switzerland.
It reported that US-backed governments in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq had mixed records last year.
The report said Sri Lanka violated human rights last year as it dealt a final blow to Tamil Tiger insurgents and clamped down on media freedom, but there were some signs of progress following the victory by government troops.
It saw progress in human rights in parts of South Asia, as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal all solidified democracy.
But in Vietnam, the authorities stepped up suppression of dissent last year, targeting activists and attempting to curb criticism in its growing blogosphere, it said.
Turning to Latin America, the report said Cuba continues to deny its citizens basic human rights, including the right to change their government, and has committed "numerous and serious abuses."
In Venezuela, "politicization of the judiciary and official harassment and intimidation of the political opposition and the media intensified during the year," according to the report.
And in Africa, the report highlighted flagrant human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Sudan.
It also signaled worrying trends like growing crackdowns on non-government organizations, persecution of vulnerable ethnic groups as well as restrictions on media, including the Internet.