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Human Rights Situations Requiring the Human Rights Council’s Attention
March 17, 2015

Item 4:  General Debate on Human Rights Situations

Requiring Council Attention

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

Human Rights Council 28th Session

Geneva, March 17, 2015

Dear Mr. Vice-President:

The United States is appalled by the horrific situation in Syria, including ISIL’s heinous atrocities.  We have addressed SyriaIran, Burma, and the DPRK in their respective interactive dialogues.

Additionally, we remain deeply concerned about the following deplorable human rights situations:

In Sudan, security forces restrict media freedom and arrest opposition members.  We deplore reports of indiscriminate and deliberate attacks against civilians by the government, including those involving the use of barrel bombs.  The government reportedly has attacked civilians in Darfur and the Two Areas, as well as humanitarian personnel, and committed extrajudicial and other unlawful killings.

In South Sudan, reports of serious human rights abuses and violations by all parties continue.  The government attacks, intimidates, and harasses civil society, UNMISS, NGOs, and dissenting political figures.

We remain concerned about human rights in China, including Tibetan and Uighur areas.  This includes increased arrests, detentions, and forced disappearances of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, academics, and others who peacefully question government policies.  The United States calls for the release of scholars and writers:  Ilham Tohti, Pu Zhiqiang, Yang Maodong, Gao Yu, and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.  We urge China to remove restrictions on released prisoners of conscience.

In Venezuela, the government is escalating intimidation of dissenters by jailing prominent leaders of the opposition.  We call on the Venezuelan government to provide due process and release those it has unjustly jailed.

We urge Cuba to improve respect for fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, release arbitrarily detained activists, open space for independent civil society, schedule visits by UN special rapporteurs and international organizations, and facilitate greater access to the internet.

In Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, we remain concerned by harsh restrictions on democratic participation, as well as on the freedoms of religion, expression, peaceful assembly and association.

Egypt continues to violate freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.  We renew our call for accountability – particularly for 2013 incidents where scores of Egyptians were killed.

Russia continues to suppress dissent and restrict independent media.  Civil society is under intense threat, including the listing of 39 human rights NGOs as “foreign agents.”  Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea has led to persecution of those opposed to the occupation, independent media, and members of minority groups including Crimean Tatars.  In eastern Ukraine, Russian-backed “separatists” have committed numerous human rights abuses.

In Azerbaijan, we remain troubled by continuing arrests of peaceful activists, the freezing of bank accounts of those involved in democratic activities, and legislation restricting NGOs.

Thank you.