Human Right Abuses Still Prevail after Arab Spring

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The State Department hailed the 2011 Middle East revolutions in its annual report on human rights around the world.

However, department officials noted that it will take time to end human rights abuses in those Arab countries.

Assistant Secretary of State Mike Posner said even though there are free elections taking place in Egypt, many basic freedoms remain out of reach.

"The yearning for change we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria is inspirational, and yet change often creates instability before it leads to greater respect for democracy and human rights," department officials said in Thursday's report.

"Transitions are times of uncertainty. They can be chaotic, unstable, and at times violent. And even when they succeed, they are rarely linear, quick, or easy," they added.

Posner also addressed a case involving Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of three who faces a death sentence in Pakistan. 
    
A court convicted Bibi for violating the country's harsh blasphemy laws. Those laws make it a crime to criticize Islam, the Koran or Islam's prophet, Mohammed.

"We're concerned about the effects of those who've challenged some of the laws, like the blasphemy law," Posner said. "Asia Bibi's case continues to be a cause of great concern. We have a big agenda. We have a tough discussion, but we're going to keep having it."

Frank Jannuzi, the head of Amnesty International's Washington office, commended the State Department's commitment to defending human rights but said their words must be reinforced with action.

"Stark reports only create real change when they translate into action, not just written and put away for the next year," he said. "Otherwise, these reports are seen as a minor slap on the wrist and business as usual continues."

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