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U.S. Calls Attention to Human Rights Situations of Concern in HRC General Debate
Item 4: General Debate on Human Rights Situations Requiring Council Attention
September 17, 2012

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 21st Session

Geneva, September 17, 2012

Madame President, 

The brutal, persistent attacks of the Syrian regime against its own people continue to warrant our attention.  It is well documented that government forces have escalated violence, perpetrating outrageous targeted killings of civilians and also resorting to collective punishment, employing mortars, aerial bombs, and other forms of indiscriminate artillery against civilians.  The United States strongly urges all States to support the extension of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry and once again calls for the Commission to be granted access to Syria.

Iran must uphold its international obligations and respect its own laws to protect the rights of all citizens, including the right to religious freedom and free expression. Iran must release all persons jailed for their religious or political beliefs, including more than 100 Baha’is, and students, lawyers, activists, and journalists who have been arbitrarily detained and denied universal human rights.  The government should immediately release opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Zahra Rahnavard.

The DPRK must immediately dismantle political prison camps, where it reportedly holds between 130,000 and 200,000 individuals, including children, without due process.  The DPRK should end the punishment and imprisonment of North Koreans who have sought asylum abroad as well as their family members.  The DPRK has yet to resolve questions of international concern relating to the abduction of nationals of South Korea, Japan, and other States.

Venezuela limits freedom of expression, criminalizes dissent, closes media outlets, and uses court cases to harass media owners’ political opposition members, while allowing anti-Semitic statements in the official media.

Sudan continues to threaten the human rights of civilians in Darfur by arming proxy militias, sustaining a climate of impunity for abuses, and denying basic political freedoms. In the Two Areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, the GOS continues widespread and systematic bombardment of civilians causing displacement and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Belarus restricts the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement, and suppresses civil society and democratic political participation.

China silences dissent through arrests, convictions, forced disappearances, and extralegal detentions; has tightened controls on the Internet; persecutes human rights lawyers; intimidates activists’ families; impedes civil society; harasses journalists; and limits religious freedom.  Government policies undermine the linguistic, religious, cultural, and livelihood traditions of its minorities.

Eritrea still has not accounted for those who have disappeared after arrest.  The government’s severe repression of fundamental freedoms has contributed to large numbers of people fleeing the country.

Cuba’s security-forces intimidate, beat and imprison Cuban citizens for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

Uzbekistan restricts religious freedom and exerts pressure on members of unregistered religious communities and human rights defenders.

Tajikistan’s respect for religious freedom continues to deteriorate, as the government has imposed legal restrictions on religious expression, participation, and places of worship.

Thank you, Madame President.