Global religious freedom commission cites 28 key nations for ‘ongoing downward trend’

Religion News Service | 4/25/2018 | Adelle M. Banks
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(RNS) — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom cited more than two dozen countries as main contributors to an “ongoing downward trend” in religious liberty worldwide and called on the Trump administration to prioritize the release of religious prisoners and assist in resettling refugees fleeing persecution.

“Sadly, religious freedom conditions deteriorated in many countries in 2017, often due to increasing authoritarianism or under the guise of countering terrorism,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark as the independent watchdog issued its 2018 report on Wednesday (April 25).

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“Yet there is also reason for optimism 20 years after the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act. The importance of this foundational right is appreciated more now than ever, and egregious violations are less likely to go unnoticed.”

The report noted the range of severe abuses in 28 countries, from what the U.S. and U.N. have labeled “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (also known as Burma) to persecution of Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners in China. It cited the so-called Islamic State’s continuing “genocidal campaign” against Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims; Russia’s harsh treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and Scientologists; and “the continued unjust detention” of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey.

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As it did in 2017, the commission asks the State Department to redesignate 10 nations as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, for egregious religious freedom violations: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

It also reiterated its request that the department add six countries to that list: Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria and Vietnam.

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Mark told reporters in a conference call that the repeated requests should not be viewed as a “status quo move” but rather the result of continuing monitoring of each country. He pointed to the example of Russia, which was...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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