Annual Report on Religious Freedom Released

U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is included in the persecuted countries list.

Sam Brownback, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom informed reporters on May 29 that every person is involved in the fight for religious freedom . Brownback said that “we’re all people with beautiful and undeniable human dignity. Our lives are sacred. Our right to choose the road our conscience takes is inalienable.”

Brownback uttered these words as part of his speech he gave at the yearly International Religious Freedom Report news conference. The document covers a particular period beginning January 1, 2017 and ending December 31, 2017. The highlights of the report mentioned Saudi Arabia. The country, as per the State Department, continues to torture, discriminate, and execute minority Shiite Muslims in 2017. The report also mentioned that the present Trump administration has followed the footsteps of its predecessor Obama administration to grant the Sunni headed kingdom all exemption from a wide range of sanctions imposed on nations suffering from bad records related to religious freedom.

Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, inaugurated the report on May 29, the maiden one published by Trump administration. The Secretary termed religious freedom, an essential factor contributing to Trump's political base, the present administration's foremost priority in the light of human rights.

The International Religious Freedom Report stated the difficulties faced by Myanmar's Kachin and Rohingya people. Brownback had made a note about his visit to the communities' refugee camps inside Bangladesh in April. He admitted that the situation is horrible and some action must be taken to help those affected. He pointed out the refugees were targeted due to their faith.

North Korea, as expected, was mentioned. The report said that about 120,000 political prisoners, some incarcerated for religious reasons are kept in “horrific conditions” within the confines of the camps all over the country. Per the report, approximately 1,304 instances of so-called violations of religious freedom happened inside North Korea in 2017.

Tajikistan, the extensive document said the country even stops minors when it came to religious activity participation. Turkmenistan, another Central Asian country. Arrest, harass and even detain unregistered worship gathers. In China, many Uighur Muslims and members of other religious minorities have died during incarceration.

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