US fires at rights abuses in Asia, Sri Lanka; China dropped from worst list

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2008 (AFP) – The United States ranked North Korea and Myanmar Tuesday among the world’s worst violators of human rights and took other Asian countries to task for alleged abuses. In Australia, the report mentioned “domestic violence against women and children, particularly in Aboriginal communities, and societal discrimination against Aboriginal people.” But the State Department’s 2007 Human Rights Report dropped China from the category of worst violators — even while denouncing its poor record — and noted progress in Thailand’s return to democracy following its 2006 coup.

And it hailed multiparty democracies like India and Indonesia for generally respecting citizens’ rights, while still pointing out major problems.

Worst List

“Countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world’s most systematic human rights violators,” the report said, singling out Myanmar and North Korea for this category — which also included Zimbabwe, Iran and Cuba.

The North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Il “continued to control almost all aspects of citizens’ lives, denying freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association, and restri