WASHINGTON - After an “especially tumultuous and momentous year’’ for human rights, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that the challenge in many Arab countries has shifted from breaking the repressive back of entrenched dictatorships to protecting new freedom during the often chaotic and sometimes violent transitions that follow.
Clinton made the remarks as she released the State Department’s report on global human rights for 2011, cataloging rights abuses in 194 countries.
She cited Egypt as an example, noting that the violence of last year had given way to a peaceful presidential election Wednesday and Thursday. Some chronic abusers of human rights remained at the bottom of the department’s list: Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Belarus, and China.
The report included tough words about Chinese rights practices, saying that conditions there had deteriorated. In 2008, the report dropped China from its list of the worst abusers. But the new report cites “repression and coercion’’ of rights advocates, tight restrictions on political dissidents, curbs on journalists and on Internet access, and “severe cultural and religious repression’’ of ethnic Uighurs and Tibetans.
The report also provided a look at conditions in Iran, where it said the government had carried out hundreds of executions without due process; arrested and tortured protesters, and detained more journalists than nearly any country in the world.