US panel for action against 12 nations

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002 12:24:12 +0100

WASHINGTON, Oct 3: A US government advisory panel has recommended that
the State Department designate 12 nations "countries of particular
concern" because of their alleged violations of religious freedom, a
move that could trigger sanctions against them. 

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said the targeted
nations should include Myanmar, North Korea, India, Iran, Iraq, Laos,
Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. 

The International Religious Freedom Act adopted in 1998 requires that
countries found in particularly severe violations of religious freedom
be considered by the US president for diplomatic or economic sanctions. 

"We hope to see actions commensurate with the severity of these abuses,"
said commission chairwoman Felice Gaer after sending the recommendations
to Secretary of State Colin Powell. 

The State Department designated Myanmar, China, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan as
"countries of particular concern" in 1999 and 2000 and added North Korea
to the list in 2001. 

But so far, it has resisted doing the same with Saudi Arabia,
Turkmenistan, and Laos, despite the commission's recommendations. 

The panel is asking to add India, Pakistan and Vietnam to the list for
the first time. 

Over the past year, the Chinese government has intensified its violent
campaign of repression against Evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics,
Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and groups such as the Falungong that
have been labelled as "evil cults," the commission said. 

It pointed out that the Indian government has tolerated severe violence
against religious minorities. 

In 2002, at least 1,000 Muslims were killed and more than 100,000 forced
to flee their homes as a result of violence by Hindu mobs in Gujarat
state after 58 Hindus were killed on a train in Godhra. 
Source: AFP 

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