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The US Calls Out Iran, China, and Venezuela on Human Rights Abuses

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Nike Ching | Voice of America

STATE DEPARTMENT – The United States is accusing authoritarian governments around the world of suppressing people with severe human rights “violations and abuses” to control any activities that might threaten their power.

“Experience teaches that government officials who oppress, abuse, and tolerate the denial of the human rights of their own people are also responsible for creating social environments that are ripe for both economic and humanitarian crises, and that encourage corruption, violent conflict, and terrorism,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement Wednesday unveiling the 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

China

Concerning China, the State Department’s human rights report focused on Chinese Communist Party officials’ intensified campaign of the mass detention of members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang).

“In China, the Chinese Communist Party uses high-tech surveillance systems to monitor potential dissidents. It’s imprisoning religious minorities in internment camps, part of its historic antipathy to religious believers,” Pompeo told reporters at Wednesday’s press briefing.

The State Department report says Chinese authorities reportedly have “arbitrarily detained more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims in extrajudicial internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities.”

The report said official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, movement, association, and assembly of predominantly Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, and Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), was more severe than in other areas of the country.

Washington also notes that in China, human rights issues include arbitrary or unlawful killings, forced disappearances, and arbitrary detention by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members; and the forcible return of asylum-seekers to North Korea.

Pompeo told in the report about Wang Meiyu, an activist for democracy who called publicly for the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping: ” Chinese citizens who want a better future are met with violence. In July, Wang Meiyu stood outside a police station calling for elections.  The police arrested him, and less than three months later his wife got a call.  He was dead. She never got an explanation.  Instead, she was brought in and asked to identify a body so bruised and broken it was barely recognizable.”

Iran

On Iran, the U.S. report highlighted the widespread protests that began last November after a fuel price increase.   

The U.S. report detailed a grim picture in Iran, citing significant human rights abuses including executions for crimes not meeting the international legal standard and without fair trials of individuals.

Saudi Arabia

Concerning Saudi Arabia, while the U.S. rights report expressed concerns about the transparency and accountability of the Saudi government regarding the October 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, it did not specifically mention the observations of U.S. embassy personnel attending the suspects’ trial.

Venezuela

Concerning Venezuela, the report cited restrictions on political participation and the stifling of free expression.

“For more than a decade, political power has been concentrated in a single party with an authoritarian executive exercising significant control over the judicial, citizens’ power, and electoral branches of government,” said the State Department, citing the reelection of Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s president is “neither free nor fair” and deeply flawed.

The U.S. report said the Maduro government restricts freedom of expression and press by routinely blocking signals and interfering with the operations of, or shutting down, privately owned television, radio and other media outlets.

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