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U.S. Deeply Disturbed by Ongoing Human Rights Violations Around the World
March 13, 2012

Item 4: General Debate on Human Rights Situations Requiring Council Attention

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council 19th Session

Delivered by Charles O. Blaha

Geneva, Switzerland

Madame President,

The United States remains deeply disturbed by ongoing human rights violations around the world.

In Syria, we condemn the slaughter, torture, kidnapping, and detention of peaceful protesters, journalists and other civilians including women and children, by government forces.  Regime brutality has created mass casualties and widespread suffering, and it has forced tens of thousands of Syrians to flee their homes, resulting in a humanitarian crisis that is spilling across its borders.

Iran arbitrarily detains, tortures, and intimidates human rights defenders and other members of civil society.
We call on Iran to uphold the universal rights, including religious freedom, of all its citizens, to release the more than 80 Baha’is jailed for their beliefs, and to cease state-sponsored Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.  We also call on Iran to release Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faces potential execution for “apostasy.”

Belarus imprisons peaceful demonstrators, suppresses non-violent protests, and works to silence independent voices.  The government should immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and ensure full restoration of their political and civil rights.

China uses arrests, convictions, forced disappearances, and extralegal detentions to silence dissent, tighten controls on the Internet, restrict civil society, and limit the rights of religious believers to practice their faith.  We call on the government to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights.  We urge the government to reassess policies that undermine Tibetan and Uighur linguistic, religious, and cultural traditions, creating grievances and fostering unrest.

The DPRK denies its citizens the freedoms of expression, assembly, association, religion, movement, and workers’ rights.  We are particularly concerned by the plight facing refugee and asylum seekers from the DPRK.  We urge all countries not to expel or return refugees to a place where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Sudan continues attacks on civilians, including via aerial bombardments in Darfur, Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan.  Government forces continue to commit human rights abuses throughout the country, including extrajudicial killing and torture.

Eritreans continue to flee their country despite the government’s shoot to kill policy for border-crossers.  Arbitrary detention remains frequent, and few ever go to trial.  Some have died in jail under suspicious circumstances.  Most independent journalists remain in detention or have disappeared.

Cuba’s security forces intimidate, threaten, and use violence against citizens who express opinions contrary to those of the government.  We call for the immediate release of Alan Gross, who has been unjustly imprisoned for more than two years.

Venezuela restricts civil society and persecutes political opposition, undermining freedom of association and expression and weakening democratic institutions.  Executive interference erodes judicial independence.  Statements published in government-sponsored media foment anti-Semitism.

Turkmenistan curtails the freedoms of religion, movement, expression, and association.  It restricts civil society and arbitrarily imprisons citizens who openly express criticism.  Torture is widespread in prison.

Madame President, we call on all governments to respect the human rights of their people.

Thank you.