Clinton: 2011 a ‘Tumultuous’ Year for Human Rights

Posted May 24th, 2012 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says 2011 was a “tumultuous and momentous” year for those whose human rights are at risk around the world, and for all trying to ensure that governments honor rights guarantees.

Clinton said Thursday people demanded their rights from the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East to Burma, where historical political reforms took place.

She noted that Egyptian citizens are voting for the first time to determine their leaders, 15 months after long-time President Hosni Mubarak resigned amid massive protests.

But Clinton denounced the Syrian government's approach to human rights, citing the “brutality” of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad toward the Syrian people.

Secretary Clinton made her remarks as the State Department issued its annual report on human rights practices.

The report said human rights conditions remained “extremely poor” in many countries that received negative assessments in 2010, including Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Belarus and China.

It also said a disturbing trend in 2011 was the treatment of religious minorities, including Ahmadis, Bahais, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and Jews.

But the report said the events in Burma may inspire “closed societies” to improve their human rights practices. It said Burma has a government that is moving toward a model of “openness, democracy and liberty, attributes that can lead to greater innovation, prosperity and inclusion.”

Since taking office more than a year ago, Burmese President Thein Sein has enacted a series of democratic reforms, including greater press freedom and the release of many political prisoners.