<i>Human rights abuses in Asia come under US fire </i>
The United States ranked North Korea and Myanmar Tuesday among the world's worst violators of human rights and took other Asian countries to task for alleged abuses.
But the State Department's 2007 Human Rights Report dropped China from the category of worst violators -- even while denouncing its poor record -- and noted progress in Thailand's return to democracy following its 2006 coup.
And it hailed multiparty democracies like India and Indonesia for generally respecting citizens' rights, while still pointing out major problems.
"Countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world's most systematic human rights violators," the report said, singling out Myanmar and North Korea for this category -- which also included Zimbabwe, Iran and Cuba.
The North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Il "continued to control almost all aspects of citizens' lives, denying freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association, and restricting freedom of movement and workers' rights," it said.
It cited reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances and arbitrary detention.
It said Myanmar's "abysmal human rights record" only worsened in the past year.
The military junta "continued to commit extrajudicial killings and was responsible for disappearances, arbitrary and indefinite detentions, rape, and torture."
It shone a spotlight on the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in September when it said security forces killed at least 30 demonstrators and detained over 3,000 others.
The report said human rights in Pakistan worsened last year despite President Pervez Musharraf's repeated pledges to foster democracy in the key US ally. It highlighted a period of emergency rule late last year.
In Sri Lanka, it said, "the government's respect for human rights continued to decline due in part to the escalation of the armed conflict," with the ethnic Tamil minority the "overwhelming majority of victims" of abuses.
A multiparty democracy that outshone its neighbors, India "generally respected the rights of its citizens," but its record was marred by a number of problems, it said.
It cited major problems like extrajudicial killings of persons in custody, disappearances, and torture and rape by police and other security forces.
The report said the Malaysian government "generally respected the human rights of its citizens."
In Australia, the report mentioned "domestic violence against women and children, particularly in Aboriginal communities, and societal discrimination against Aboriginal people.”