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By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A special committee of the U.N. General Assembly condemned North Korea and Myanmar on Thursday for what it said were widespread human rights violations in the two Asian countries.
The 192-nation General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights issues, approved a non-binding resolution on North Korea 97-19 with 65 abstentions.
A similar resolution on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, passed 92-26 with 65 abstentions.
The North Korea resolution voiced "very serious concern" at what it said were persistent reports of "systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights."
Among Pyongyang's violations, the resolution said, are torture, inhuman conditions of detention, public executions, collective punishment and "the existence of a large number of prison camps and the extensive use of forced labour."
North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, Pak Tok Hun, dismissed the resolution as a political attack by its enemies.
"The draft resolution is nothing more than a document of political conspiracy of the hostile forces to ... deny and obliterate the state and social system of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," he told the committee.
Among the sponsors of the North Korea resolution were the European Union, the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Envoys from developing nations that rights groups have also accused of having poor human rights records -- including China, Russia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Egypt and Zimbabwe -- told the committee that they generally reject such resolutions because they oppose singling out specific countries.
Assembly condemnations of the human rights situation in North Korea, Myanmar and Iran have become an annual ritual in recent years.
FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
Myanmar's U.N. envoy Than Swe rejected the resolution on his country, which said the assembly "strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar."
It also voiced "grave concern" at the recent trial and sentencing to further house arrest of Myanmar's opposition leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and urged the military junta to release her and all other political prisoners.
The resolution also called on Myanmar's military rulers to pass the necessary electoral legislation and take further steps to ensure that next year's general election is not rigged but "free, fair, transparent and inclusive."
Than Swe said the resolution is "glaringly deficient" and little more than "another means to maintain pressure on Myanmar in tandem with sanctions."
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the resolution "sets out the action Burma's military rulers must take if planned elections are to have any international credibility."
The Third Committee, which includes all members of the General Assembly, is scheduled to debate a resolution condemning Iran on Friday. A special General Assembly session next month is expected to formally adopt all recently approved committee resolutions.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Reuters