AP, Mar. 6, 2003
By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP)–A watchdog group is complaining that a new State Department list of countries that severely limit religious freedom omits several that deserve censure.
The State Department’s annual list of “countries of concern,” released Wednesday, consists of Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Sudan. All are repeaters from last year.
The designations are one of the tools the U.S. government uses to address religious persecution and bring pressure on governments that are responsible for it.
U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
|Information about U.S. human rights violations and related issues is included in this web log for the following reasons:|
America’s goverment frequently accuses and even threathens (e.g. with economic boycotts) countries that protect their citizens against destructive and/or fraudulent cults of violating ‘human rights.’
Meanwhile, Washington consistently and deliberately fails to address America’s serious, real human rights violations.
As a Christian, the publisher of Apologetic Index / Religion News Blog believes that he (and other Christians) should address human rights violations.
As a member of Amnesty International, the publisher of Apologetics Index / Religion News Blog is an outspoken critic of America’s manifold human rights violations.
The State Department seeks advice on which countries to designate from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal agency.
In a statement, the commission acknowledged problems in the six countries named by the State Department but said India, Laos, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam also deserved mention.
The commission’s country-by-country background information says Sudan is the world’s “most violent abuser” of the right to freedom of religion and belief.
“In the commission’s view, the Sudanese government has committed genocidal atrocities against civilian populations in the South.”
As for Saudi Arabia, religious freedom “does not exist” there, the commission said, adding that the State Department itself shares that assessment.
Other commission observations:
• India: At least 1,000 Muslims were killed and more than 100,000 forced to flee their homes as a result of violence by Hindu mobs in Gujarat State after 58 Hindus were killed on a train in Godhra.
• Pakistan: There has been an upsurge in attacks targeting Pakistan’s Christian minority. The government also has failed adequately to protect religious minorities from sectarian violence.
• Laos: The government continued to arrest, detain and imprison members of minority religions on account of their faith.
• Vietnam: Officials continued repressive policies toward all religions and their followers.
• Turkmenistan: The government severely restricted religious activity other than by the government-sanctioned Sunni Muslim Board and the Russian Orthodox Church./