China a ‘flagrant example’ of religious repression, says US | Religious News

China provides a “glaring example” of how governments are cracking down on religious minorities, a US official said, as the State Department released its annual report on religious freedom around the world.

Rashad Hussain, the U.S. Goodwill Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, told a news conference Thursday that “far too many governments are undeterred by the repression of their citizens.”

“It’s no surprise that the People’s Republic of China is a glaring example here,” he told reporters.

“The PRC government continues[s] to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other minority ethnic and religious groups.

A day before US President Joe Biden took office, Washington announced that it had determined that Beijing was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” against Uyghurs in the western province of Xinjiang, where groups of Advocates and witnesses said more than a million people were being held in internment camps.

China initially denied the existence of detention camps in Xinjiang, but in 2018 said it had set up “vocational training centers” needed to fight what it called terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism in the region.

The Chinese government has dismissed allegations of abuse, denouncing “slanderous attacks” on the conditions of Uyghurs and other religious minorities in Xinjiang.

“China continues its genocide and repression of predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other minority religious groups,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday at the press conference unveiling the 2021 International Religious Freedom Report.

“Since April 2017, more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and others have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang,” he said.

The State Department report also accuses the Chinese government of exercising control over and restricting “the activities and personal freedom of religious followers whom it perceives as a threat to the state or [Chinese Community Party] interests”.

“NGOs and the media continued to report deaths in custody that the government tortured, physically abused, arrested, disappeared, detained, sentenced to prison, subjected to forced labor and forced indoctrination into the ideology of the CCP, and harassed adherents of registered and unregistered religious groups. for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices,” it read.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Says China Continues ‘Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity’ Against Uyghurs and Other Minorities [File: Alex Brandon/Pool via AFP]

India

The State Department report also detailed religious freedom in India, a longtime U.S. ally and the world’s largest democracy — but a nation that experts and rights watchers say has seen the human rights situation has deteriorated in recent years.

“Attacks against members of minority religious communities, including killings, assaults and intimidation, occurred throughout the year,” the report said, highlighting incidents of “cowardly vigilance” against non-believers. Hindus, as well as threats, attacks and incitements against Christians. and Muslims.

He also said Hindu and Sikh civilians had been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir in attacks that “caused widespread fear” and forced hundreds to flee.

“Ten of the 28 states have laws restricting religious conversions. Four state governments have laws imposing penalties against so-called forced religious conversions for the purpose of marriage,” the report said.

The findings came weeks after a separate US panel urged the State Department for the third consecutive year to place India on the US list of “countries of particular concern”, saying religious freedom had significantly deteriorated” in the country in 2021.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has accused India of “engaging in and condoning systematic, continuous, and gross violations of religious freedom” and of pursuing policies that “negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Other Religious Minorities” (PDF).

Ambassador Hussain also expressed concern in February over a controversial headscarf ban in schools and colleges in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

This criticism prompted a strong rebuttal from the Indian government, which also dismissed US reports on human rights and religious freedom in India in the past as interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has stressed the importance of Washington’s relationship with New Delhi, and senior US officials held virtual talks with their Indian counterparts in April.

However, ties have been tested more recently by India’s purchases of Russian energy supplies amid the war in Ukraine, with Biden telling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the United States could help the country. India to diversify its oil supplies – but to avoid increasing Russian imports.

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