US says Asia’s rights record poor in 2013

WASHINGTON, February 27, 2014 (AFP) – From China’s crackdown on activists to flawed elections in Cambodia and widespread violence against Muslims in Myanmar, Asia’s human rights record in 2013 remained poor, US officials said Thursday. Releasing its annual Human Rights report, the State Department documented a litany of abuses across the continent, with especially strong criticism of North Korea, where it said conditions “remained deplorable.”

An estimated 80,000 to 200,000 people are in prison camps and detention systems in the isolated communist state, facing “harsh and life-threatening” circumstances, as well as “systematic and severe human rights abuses.”

And despite minor successes in China, such as the abolition of labor camps and a change to the one-child policy, the economically-resurgent country of more than one billion people remained “an authoritarian state.”

“Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy… were routine,” the report said.

“The government systematically used its laws to silence dissent and punish individuals, as well as their relatives and associates, for attempting to exercise their right to free expression,” th

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