Friday, April 8, 2011

Report tracks 'dramatic changes' sweeping the Mideast

Washington (CNN) -- The latest assessment of human rights by the United States is critical of the records of Middle Eastern governments, including those of allies like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and adds that it will take "years" before the impact of the wave of unrest across the region is understood.

In a gripping introduction to its 2010 Human Rights Report released Friday, the State Department said, "Because we are publishing this report three months into the new year... our perspectives on many issues are now framed by the dramatic changes sweeping across countries in the Middle East in 2011."
Libyan rebels under fire withdraw from the western edge of Ajdabiyah on April 8, 2011.
Libyan rebels under fire withdraw from the western
edge of Ajdabiyah on April 8, 2011.
"At this moment," it said, "we cannot predict the outcome of these changes, and we will not know the lasting impacts for years to come."

The detailed report chronicles human rights conditions in 194 countries but it focuses significant attention on events in the Middle East and North Africa.

No "sweeping analysis" of the entire region is possible, it said, because the internal dynamics of each country are different.

But, singling out Tunisia, which sparked the so-called "Arab Spring" and Egypt, which threw out one of the most powerful leaders in the region, the report says, "We are witnessing popular demands for meaningful political participation, fundamental freedoms, and greater economic opportunity."

"These demands are profound, they are homegrown, and they are being driven by new activists, many of them young people. These citizens seek to build sustainable democracies in their countries with governments that respect the universal human rights of their own people. If they succeed, the Middle East region, and with it the whole world, will be improved."

The 2010 Human Rights Report lists three trends that are affecting rights around the world:

The first is the "explosive growth" of non-governmental advocacy organizations promoting democracy and human rights issues and causes. "In many countries "citizens' organizations have been created against great odds and only because individual human rights activists were willing to face great personal risk," it says.