Persecution Friday – Worldwide: Religious Freedom in 2012

July 6, 2012 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

UNITED STATES — A recent report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) identified 16 countries that had committed severe violations of religious rights, including torture, prolonged detentions without charges and disappearances.

The USCIRF 2012 Annual Report reviews all religions, with particular attention to minority religions. The 16 countries listed as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) by the USCIRF are also included in The Voice of the Martyrs’ list of Hostile and Restricted Countries because of their mistreatment of Christians. The 16 countries are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. Christians in these nations face harsh persecution for practicing their faith.

“The failure to prevent or punish violence against vulnerable religious minorities provided a grim portrait of how states can create or fuel a culture of impunity, encouraging private citizens or groups to threaten, intimidate, and even murder others,” the report stated.

The USCIRF report recommends policy changes to the U.S. government in hopes that the policies will persuade other countries to provide greater religious freedoms. These recommendations are seldom implemented.

The USCIRF also maintains a Watch List of countries that commit serious violations of religious freedom, though not as serious as those committed by countries on the CPC list. The 2012 USCIRF Watch List includes Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia and Venezuela.

“The Watch List provides advance warning of negative trends that could develop into severe violations of religious freedom, thereby providing policymakers with the opportunity to engage early and increasing the likelihood of preventing or diminishing the violations,” reported the USCIRF.
The 2012 Annual Report also lists specific individuals who are currently detained, jailed or have disappeared as a result of their religious beliefs. Many of the imprisoned Christians currently featured on http://www.prisoneralert.com are mentioned in the report, including Gao Zhisheng, Yang Rongli, Alimujiang Yimiti and Wang Xiaoguang, from China; Youcef Nadarkhani, from Iran; Asia Bibi and Imran Ghafur, from Pakistan; Nguyen Van Ly, from Vietnam; and Tohar Haydarov, from Uzbekistan.

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