US foreign policy

US criticizes China, Russia, Syria for human rights abuses in new report

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The annual Human Rights Reports released by the United States were published Tuesday, with Washington criticizing Iran, China, Russia and Syria, among others, for their violent crackdowns on opposition figures and minorities.

Each year, the State Department sends a report to Congress on all the countries that receive assistance from the US and all the United Nations member states.

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“Too many people continued to suffer under brutal conditions in 2020,” the report read, singling out China for its genocide against Uighurs and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “atrocities against the people of Syria [that] continued unabated.”

Russia was also criticized for continuing to target political dissidents and peaceful protesters “while official corruption remained rampant.”

According to the report, the coronavirus pandemic also placed obstacles in front of individuals’ abilities to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms. “Some governments used the crisis as a pretext to restrict rights and consolidate authoritarian rule.

“Women and children faced heightened risk as the prevalence of gender-based and domestic violence increased due to lockdowns and the loss of traditional social protections.”


In Iran, government officials committed human rights violations against its own citizens, but also in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

This was done through Iran’s military support for the Assad regime and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. In Iraq, Iran aided its proxies that have several militia groups across the country.

And in Yemen, Tehran continued to support the Houthi militia, designated by the US as a terrorist organization, until President Joe Biden took office.


Turkey, which is coming under complete control by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, committed human rights abuses through arbitrary killings and arbitrary arrests of tens of thousands of opposition politicians and journalists.

Ankara also arrested employees of the US Mission for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or “peaceful, legitimate speech,” Tuesday’s report read.

“The government took limited steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish members of the security forces and other officials accused of human rights abuses; impunity remained a problem,” according to the report.


The report criticized the Iran-backed Houthis for failing to implement agreements on ceasefires.

“Hostilities–including Houthi military offensives, Houthi drone and missile strikes within the country and on Saudi Arabia, and coalition airstrikes–continued to date,” the report said.

The report also decried the Yemeni government’s inability to address human rights abuses due to the continued civil war. “Houthi control over government institutions in the north severely reduced the [Yemeni government’s] capacity to conduct investigations,” the report read.

Saudi Arabia

While no country was spared criticism in the report, the US did commend Saudi Arabia’s progress on human rights issues, including the royal decree to abolish the death penalty on minors that committed certain crimes.

The decree was also praised for placing a limit of 10 years on prison sentences against minors. “The Supreme Court instructed courts to end flogging as a discretionary sentence and replace it with prison sentences or fines, which could eliminate flogging in most cases. Authorities continued to expand women’s rights, including a court ruling that a woman living independently did not constitute a criminal act and the Ministry of Education’s decision to drop the requirement that women studying abroad on a government scholarship be accompanied by a male guardian,” the report read.

Read more: UN negotiating with China for unfettered access to Xinjiang’s Uighurs region