U.S. expresses concern for religious freedoms in China, Pakistan, Burma, other countries

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Twitter @SecBlinken

The United States announced it has designated a number countries on its list of Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

“Around the world, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, jail, and even kill individuals on account of their beliefs,” says a statement released by Secretary of State Antony Blinken December 2, 2022.

The statement announced designations against Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan “for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

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The United States will not stand by in the face of abuses such as stifling “individuals’ freedom of religion or belief to exploit opportunities for political gain,” the statement said, adding, that these actions sow division, undermine economic security, and threaten political stability and peace.

Blinken also announced that Washington was placing Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam on the Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.  It also designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group based on its actions in the Central African Republic as Entities of Particular Concern.

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