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India on Global Religious Freedom Violators List – USCIRF

SM Fasiullah for BeyondHeadlines

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has placed India on the offenders list in its newly released global Annual Report 2013.

The report from USCIRF, an independent federal advisory body created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), highlighted the status of religious freedom across the world and identified those governments that are the most “egregious” violators.

India on Global Religious Freedom Violators List - USCIRFThis report categorizes offenders as Tier 1, Tier 2 or “Watch list” countries. The Tier 2 category replaces the Watch List designation previously used by USCIRF.

After the annual assessment, India has been placed in the Tier 2 along with seven other countries – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos and Russia.

The violations committed in nations listed in Tier 2 list met at least one criterion of IRFA’s three-fold “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard, noted USCIRF.

In addition, the report recommends eight nations to be re-designated as “countries of particular concern” or CPCs. Those countries are: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

While noting the prevalence of sectarian violence and abuses of religious freedom in Burma, the report articulates that ongoing political reforms need to significantly ameliorate the situation for freedom of religion and belief.

USCIRF’s Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett stated that the presence of forces that fuel instability makes the state of international religious freedom dreadful.

“These forces include the rise of violent religious extremism coupled with the actions and inactions of governments,” added Lantos Swett.

“Extremists target religious minorities and dissenters from majority religious communities for violence, including physical assaults and even murder.  Authoritarian governments also repress religious freedom through intricate webs of discriminatory rules, arbitrary requirements and draconian edicts.

“The Annual Report ultimately is about people and how their governments treat them. Violations affect members of diverse religious communities around the world, be they Rohinghya Muslims in Burma, Coptic Christians in Egypt, Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong in China, Baha’is in Iran, Ahmadis and Christians in Pakistan, or Muslims in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan and in non-Muslim nations like Russia.”

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