U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented on the findings of the State Department's 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released today. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Today's report serves as a reminder that while we have made great strides in the struggle for human dignity, there are still innocent people being oppressed by brutal dictatorships. In the last year, uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have brought millions of people into the streets demanding greater freedom, accountability and respect for human rights.
"In Syria, the civil war unleashed by the Assad regime has resulted in human rights violations on a scale that has outraged free people everywhere. Responsible nations need to recognize the failure of the UN mission in Syria and finally impose crippling sanctions that will end the regime's slaughter of innocents. Despite increasing pressure by responsible nations on Iran, the regime continues to brutally oppress its people, particularly women, and religious and ethnic minorities. I also remain concerned with the report's findings regarding Saudi Arabia, including pervasive restrictions on universal rights such as freedom of expression, equal rights for women, children, religious minorities, and foreign workers.
"In the Western Hemisphere, the report confirms the Castro brothers' relentless attacks on opposition leaders and protestors who are increasingly subjected to unjust detention, harassment, and imprisonment in the island's miserable gulags. Elsewhere in the hemisphere, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's insatiable quest for power at any cost continues to lead to the criminalization of political dissent and obstruction of the free press.
"In Belarus, the Lukashenko government continues its campaign of abuse toward its citizens, making a mockery of democratic elections using vote manipulation, intimidation and arrests of political opposition leaders. The report also describes numerous violations by the Russian regime, including its serial contempt for the rule of law and its restrictions on freedom of expression.
"In North Korea, the regime's long history of depraved misrule continues with arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners. The Chinese regime's continued repression and coercion engineered to protect the ruling Communist party continues to result in illegal arrests and detentions, forced sterilizations, infanticide, restrictions on assembly, religious practice, extra-judicial killings, executions, and torture. Beijing must be held accountable in any bilateral or multilateral exchanges for its blatant disregard for human rights.
"These Country Reports should serve as a call to action. The United States must stand with the oppressed, and promote human rights and freedom for all."