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.
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 www.prisoneralert.com
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.
To read the USCIRF report in full,
Sources: USCIRF, www.prisoneralert.com
Posted: April 13, 2012