A Syrian legislator responded Thursday to U.S. criticism of its human rights record by saying the annual State Department report represented a "blatant and meaningless interference in other countries' internal affairs".
Syria was one of more that 150 states included in the U.S. report, which covers numerous issues such as the state of democracy, freedom of speech and religion in countries around the world.
The report, released Wednesday, claimed Syria used torture, limited the right of free speech and assembly and allowed no political opposition.
On his part, Suleiman Hadad, a Syrian legislator and a former assistant foreign minister, told reporters that the United States could not talk about human rights as it is an aggressive country, occupying a foreign land.
According to IRIB, he said there was no problem with human rights in Syria, which had embarked on a democratic process.
However Haitham Maleh, the chairman of the committees for the defence of human rights in Syria, acknowledged that there are many violations of human rights in Syria, but also rejected any interference from any foreign country.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he was "disappointed" with Syria's Middle East policy, and that relations between Damascus and Washington were "not as I would like them to be."
"I think it is time for Syria to really take a hard look at the policies they followed in the past and whether those policies are relevant to the future in light of what's happened in Iraq," Powell said in an interview with the US Middle East television channel Al Hurra.
"I think it's time for Syrian President Bashar Assad to start looking at steps he might take to change his relationship with the United States and his relationship with the other countries in the region," Powell said in a transcript of the interview.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )