Freedom of worship was harshly restricted again in China and Myanmar previous year, with religious believers in China jailed and Muslims and Christians in Buddhist-majority Myanmar harassed by government and citizens' groups, the U.S. State Department said in an annual report released on Tuesday.
TILLERSON: ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas that it controls or has controlled.
The State Department accuses ISIS of targeting "members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death". "As importantly, we promote religious freedom because countries that effectively safeguard this human right are more stable, economically vibrant and peaceful". "No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, face discrimination due to their beliefs".
Ten countries "of particular concern" in the report include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
In China, the report notes, "t$3 here continued to be reports that the government physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices, including members of unregistered Christian churches (also known as "house churches")". The report to Congress is part of America's push to "promote religious freedom as a moral imperative", the State Department said in a statement.
The annual State Department report is mandated by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which created the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department and works to make promoting religious freedom a part of USA foreign policy.
The report also said that the government marginalises Ahmadiyya Muslims.
Pursuant to the 2016 Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, this year, for the first time, USCIRF recommended three groups be designated as "entities of particular concern" (EPCs). "The failure of governments to protect this right breeds instability, terrorism and violence".
Tillerson, Shea said, "forcefully clarified that ISIS has the "specific intent" of destroying the Christian community, along with the other two minorities". "The trends in global persecution and extremism underscore the need for the International Religious Freedom office to rise in prominence within the State Department".
Tillerson said in all, some 80 percent of the world's population live in restricted or hostile environments when it comes to freedom of religion.
But Russia, while it has a critical chapter in the report itself, did not come up by name in Tillerson's speech.
"Religious persecution and intolerance remains far too prevalent". He castigated China for its persecution of Uighurs, a Muslim minority there.
"I want to commend Secretary Tillerson for focusing on those who have been victims of genocide", he said.
Saudi Arabia's legal system is based on sharia law and criminalizes non-Muslim public worship, proselytizing by non-Muslims and conversion to another faith by Muslims, the report says. Tillerson adopted a much different tone in his opening remarks today, touting the defense of freedom overseas as an ethical and national security priority. We urge Saudi Arabia to embrace greater degrees of religious freedom. "We also hope that the Senate swiftly confirms Governor Sam Brownback as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom when it reconvenes in September".
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