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US human rights report looks at China with concern

The State Department's annual human rights report highlights some 'very positive' trends, but also suggests that China is spearheading trends in global repression.

By Staff writer / April 8, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures while speaking at the State Department Friday in Washington, on the release of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010.

Alex Brandon/AP

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Washington

Three disturbing global trends – growing crackdowns on civil-society activists, countries restricting Internet access, and a rising repression of vulnerable minorities – are the focus of the State Department’s annual human rights report issued Friday.

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In releasing the report card of human rights in more than 190 countries, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to impress upon violators highlighted in the report – ranging from Uganda to Venezuela – that respecting human rights actually leads to more stable and prosperous societies.

“Societies flourish when they address human-rights problems instead of suppressing them,” Secretary Clinton said. “Freedom from fear makes economies grow as citizens invest, innovate, and participate.”

And although the report covers 2010, Clinton took the opportunity of the report’s release to highlight the groundswell in demands for basic rights across the Middle East this year – demands that have their roots in decades of unmet yearnings across the region, she said.

“In recent months, we have been particularly inspired by the courage and determination of the activists in the Middle East and North Africa, and in other repressive societies who have demanded peaceful democratic change and respect for their individual human rights,” she said.

Egypt is an example of a country where specific conditions that raised concerns last year led to this year’s events, said Michael Posner, assistant secretary in charge of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

The “systematic human rights problems” noted in the report – including Egypt’s state of emergency law and repressive state security operations – were “important pieces of why people took to [Tahrir] Square in January,” he said.

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