In its yearly report on Human Rights, the U.S. State Department noted that 2011 was tumultuous. Some countries — for example, Tunisia, which kicked off the Arab Spring — made strides while others fell back on their human rights records.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

-- The AP reports that the State Department hailed the improvement in Myanmar, which released "hundreds of political prisoners and [allowed the] participation of its most famous former detainee, democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in elections."

-- China's record is deteriorating. The AFP reports:

"'In China, the human rights situation deteriorated, particularly the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association,' the State Department said in its annual human rights report for 2011."'The government stepped up efforts to silence political activists and resorted to extralegal measures,' it said."The report said that Chinese forces 'reportedly committed arbitrary or unlawful killings' and has held activists in unknown circumstances including human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and ethnic Mongolian campaigner Hada."

-- Bloomberg says that in introducing the report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about Syria. The wire service reports:

"She singled out for particular criticism Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, saying his regime is engaged in 'not just an assault on freedom of expression or freedom of association, but an assault on the very lives of citizens. The Assad regime's brutality against its own people must and will end,' she said."

-- On Bahrain, the report liberally quotes the King's commission, which found significant human rights abuses. But the language in the executive summary was very factual, noting arbitrary detention and the "inability of citizens to peacefully change their government..."

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