The United States on Wednesday designated several nations, including Pakistan, China, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar, as countries of particular concern for violation of religious freedom.
"I am designating Burma (Myanmar), the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
Mr. Blinken also announced to place Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.” The U.S. also designated al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Taliban as ‘Entities of Particular Concern’.
Asserting that the United States will not waiver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country, Mr. Blinken said the challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched.
"They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community’s urgent attention,” he said.
The United States, he said, will continue to press all governments to remedy the shortcomings in their laws and practices, and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses.
"The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organisations, and members of religious communities to advance religious freedom around the world and address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe,” Mr. Blinken said.