WASHINGTON - A US report hailed the "yearning for change" in Arab countries and moves toward openness in military-backed Myanmar, saying they may inspire a push for freedom in other dark reaches of the world.
"The yearning for change we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria is inspirational," the State Department said in its 2011 report on human rights.
"And yet change often creates instability before it leads to greater respect for democracy and human rights," it said.
Following decades of repression, "it will take time to create diverse political parties, a robust civil society, a climate conducive to freedom of expression, and a transparent political culture," it said.
It warned of transitions that can be "chaotic, unstable and at times violent," adding they are rarely quick, smooth or easy even when they succeed.
And it recalled the high cost to demonstrators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria, where thousands have been killed and many others abused by security forces.
"But the images of demonstrators who had seemingly lost all fear, risking their lives to oppose governments they deemed illegitimate, inspired people around the world," it said.
"Even in the most isolated places, the desire for greater freedom and political and economic opportunity began to flicker," the report said.
The report also hailed the changes in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where the military-backed regime of President Thein Sein has surprised many observers with a spate of reforms designed to break decades of isolation.
"Burma offers an example of a government moving towards a model of greater openness, democracy, and liberty, attributes that can lead to greater innovation, prosperity, and inclusion," it said.
"Much remains to be done to implement reforms and especially to address the legacy of decades of violence against ethnic minorities," the report said.
"But the size of the task ahead does not diminish the excitement of these first steps, or the sense of possibility they may inspire in other closed societies, such as Iran, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Eritrea, or Sudan," it added.