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Listing Afghanistan as spiritual liberty violator, report urges State Division

(Photograph: iStock/Everett Atlas)

(RNS) — The U.S. Fee on Worldwide Non secular Freedom really helpful that Afghanistan be added to the State Division’s checklist of worst spiritual freedom violators, citing the adjustments that resulted when the Taliban took management of the nation final 12 months.

The federal panel stated in its annual report launched Monday that the regime change has meant worsening situations for spiritual liberty and important deterioration of human rights general.

“Non secular minorities confronted harassment, detention, and even loss of life resulting from their religion or beliefs,” the bipartisan fee stated within the report’s introduction.

“The one identified Jew and most Hindus and Sikhs fled the nation. Christian converts, Baha’is, and Ahmadiyya Muslims practiced their religion in hiding resulting from concern of reprisal and threats from the Taliban.”

The final time the watchdog fee really helpful Afghanistan be thought-about “a rustic of explicit concern,” the State Division designation that indicators ongoing, systematic and egregious spiritual freedom violations, was in 2001, simply previous to the ouster of the earlier Taliban regime that managed a lot of the nation for 5 years.

The Taliban has been on the State Division’s checklist of “entities of explicit concern” yearly since federal officers started that designation in 2018.

The 2022 annual report particulars conclusions of commissioners’ analysis through the earlier 12 months, from genocide to expenses of blasphemy to punishment for listening to explicit spiritual teachings. However throughout a digital information briefing on Monday, additionally they famous their present considerations about Russia — already labeled a rustic of explicit concern — and its invasion of Ukraine.

“We concern, and I am unhappy to say, that violence will proceed to extend due to Russia’s blatant violation of non secular freedom in Russia and on this battle that exists in Ukraine,” stated Khizr Khan, one of many latest commissioners.

“We’ll proceed to look at with nice concern, and we hope that the turmoil ceases ahead of it seems, so such are our prayers and our good needs for the individuals which are struggling on this turmoil.”

At a digital public occasion later within the day, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida echoed commissioners’ feedback about Russia, decrying President Vladimir Putin’s invasion that has led to persecution of non-Russian Orthodox Christians and destruction of Jewish cultural websites and Holocaust memorials.

“I’ve authored laws to increase USCIRF’s mandate,” he stated in prerecorded remarks in regards to the fee, which was reauthorized in 2019 with three years of funding.

“I am hopeful the invoice can be taken up quickly so your good work can proceed with out interruption.”

Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi additionally spoke in assist of USCIRF’s work, noting that its outspokenness about spiritual liberty in China had prompted a response.

“Seven of your commissioners have been sanctioned by China’s authorities,” stated the California Democrat, additionally in prerecorded remarks. “Clearly your advocacy is having an affect and even hanging a nerve.”

USCIRF renewed its suggestion that the Central African Republic be positioned on the State Division’s “particular watch checklist,” its second-highest designation. Final 12 months the panel instructed CAR be dropped resulting from a discount in violence towards individuals primarily based on their spiritual identification, however the brand new report says circumstances have just lately worsened.

“Throughout 2021, Central African authorities and their companions dedicated egregious and ongoing violations of non secular freedom in CAR — together with focused abductions, torture, and killings of Muslims,” the report acknowledged.

USCIRF additionally has requested that the State Division redesignate the next nations as international locations of explicit concern, or CPCs: Myanmar, (known as Burma on the official checklist), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Along with Afghanistan, the watchdog requested the next international locations even be cited as CPCs: India, Nigeria, Syria and Vietnam.

The State Division has listed three international locations, Algeria, Cuba and Nicaragua, on its particular watch checklist. Along with CAR, the commissioners requested that these eight international locations be included: Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

The report, which provides key methods for presidential administrations and Congress to implement the 1998 Worldwide Non secular Freedom Act, famous the confirmations of Rashad Hussain as the brand new U.S. ambassador-at-large for spiritual freedom and Deborah Lipstadt because the particular envoy to watch and fight antisemitism.

It additionally reiterated USCIRF commissioners’ concern that the State Division determined to not redesignate Nigeria as a CPC, “regardless of spiritual freedom situations not altering considerably from the earlier 12 months,” and “fully bypassed” downgrading it to the particular watch checklist. The brand new report particulars “significantly extreme spiritual freedom violations” that occurred there in 2021.

The annual report has usually been primarily based, partly, on fact-finding journeys by commissioners, however these have been halted over the last two years as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. A few of them just lately resumed journey with a weeklong go to to Uzbekistan, stated Vice Chair Nury Turkel, assembly with authorities and civil society leaders in addition to members of persecuted religions.

© Religion News Service

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