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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/28/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Chemical attack on Syrian suburb denounced as worst human rights violation of 2013

The United States State Department has denounced the chemical weapons attack one of Syria's "countless crimes against humanity" and by far the worst human right violation of 2013. But it's not just Syria that's trampling on basic human rights and freedoms: Uganda, North Korea and Ukraine have all been called out for their crimes against humanity.

The state department declared that the August 21 chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb was 'one of many horrors in a civil war filled with countless crimes against humanity, from the torture and murder of prisoners to the targeting of civilians with barrel bombs and Scud missiles, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives.'

The state department declared that the August 21 chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb was "one of many horrors in a civil war filled with countless crimes against humanity, from the torture and murder of prisoners to the targeting of civilians with barrel bombs and Scud missiles, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives."


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

2/28/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Syria, human rights violations, Secretary of State John Kerry, Ukraine

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In an annual survey by the State Department of global human rights abuses, the report singled out the expected repeat offenders: Iran, for manipulation of elections and civil liberties restrictions; North Korea, for rampant reports of extrajudicial killings, detentions, and torture and Belarus, for beatings of protesters.

"The fundamental struggle for a driving force in society," Secretary of State John Kerry says. "This year's report, we think is especially timely. It comes on the heels of one of the most momentous years for human rights in modern history."

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Kerry called out Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and Uganda among others for their extensive human rights violations in the past year. The state department declared that the August 21 chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb was "one of many horrors in a civil war filled with countless crimes against humanity, from the torture and murder of prisoners to the targeting of civilians with barrel bombs and Scud missiles, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

"The tragedy that has befallen the Syrian people stands apart in its scope and human cost," the report concluded.

According to the report, kidnappings, targeted killings of journalists, protesters, torture of women and children and deplorable prison conditions are among a litany of major issues in Syria.

Crackdowns on peaceful protests in Ukraine and Russia's refusal to punish human rights abusers during 2013 were also cited in the report.

The growing unrest in Ukraine over the past year has forced President Viktor Yanukovich to flee the capital, Kiev. Russian news agencies have since reported Yanukovich was staying at a Kremlin sanatorium, outside Moscow, for protection.

Parliamentary elections there did not meet international standards for fairness or transparency, and security forces beat protesters with batons and employed other forms of force at a peaceful November 30 demonstration against the government in Kiev's main square.

The most egregious abuse in Ukraine last year, however, the report said was the government's crackdown on media, including violence against journalists.

The report said Ukrainian security forces beat detainees, maintained unhealthy prisons, fostered corruption in the courts and across the government and harassed or otherwise discriminated against ethnic minorities and gay people.

Secretary of State Kerry also called out Uganda over its recently enacted anti-gay law, and the more than 80 countries that have criminalized homosexuality.

Kerry called the laws an "affront" to human dignity and said "The United States will continue to stand up for equal rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters."

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