U.S. targets 10 countries over religious freedom violations

06 January, 2018, 03:19 | Author: Diane Mills
  • US Targets North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China Over Religious Freedom Violations

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also placed Pakistan on a "Special Watch List" for severe violations of religious freedom.

For the past 15 years, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended that the USA government designate Pakistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its egregious human rights and religious freedom violations against Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Shi'a Muslims.

USA relations with Pakistan have been particularly strained in recent days. "The Special Watch List designation status given to Pakistan by the U.S. Secretary of State to Pakistan may help Pakistan's religious minorities". These countries have governments that "have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom".

"The designation of these countries is a key step in ensuring continued US engagement in support of worldwide religious freedom".

The list has been released each year since 1998 under the International Religious Freedom Act.

While putting Pakistan on the worldwide religious freedom blacklist itself is a normal process, experts said the timing is "very ominous". Pakistan was the only country in the new category. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. The 10 countries on the "CPC" list are unchanged from past year.

A bipartisan group of six senators, including Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), asked Tillerson in October to make Pakistan a CPC, citing systematic religious oppression. "They are burned alive in the streets, the majority serve as cleaners or sweepers or sewage workers and they are held hostage to bias laws such as the draconian blasphemy laws".

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Sudan has also been severally accused of repressing religious freedoms especially of non-Muslims. "Additionally, provincial textbooks with discriminatory content against minorities remain a significant concern".

"North Korea religious freedom is completely non-existent".

"It is our responsibility, as Americans, to speak for those with no voice", he commented Thursday. The country has a dominantly Muslim north with the south being Christian.

"I think there is no issue here", Yousaf said.

"Governments and business firms who are in sympathy with the people of Iran and their aspirations to national dignity and freedom can, for example, assist in thwarting censorship and the efforts of the Tehran regime to shut down social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, by which the Iranian people can communicate with one another and with foreign journalists freely", they wrote.

It is interesting and welcome to note that in spite of the US decision to permanently lift certain sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Sudan that were lifted conditionally by President Obama, Sudan remains (rightfully so) a Country of Particular Concern.


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