The US has re-designated Pakistan and China among seven other countries that are of particular concern for violation of religious freedom, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
Pakistan and China along with Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were placed in the list for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom," Pompeo said.
The Department renewed the placement of Comoros, Russia and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom, and added Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan to this list.
Sudan was moved to the SWL due to significant steps taken by the civilian-led transitional government to address the previous regime's systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
US also designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa'ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.
These designations underscore the United States' commitment to protect those who seek to exercise their freedom of religion or belief, Pompeo said.
We believe that everyone, everywhere, at all times, should have the right to live according to the dictates of their conscience. We will continue to challenge state and non-state entities that seek to infringe upon those fundamental rights and to ensure they are held to account for their actions, he said.
This month, the US Government announced designations of 68 individuals and entities in nine countries for corruption and human rights abuses under the Global Magnitsky Act, among them four military leaders of Myanmar were responsible for serious human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities, he said.
In October, we placed visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention or abuse of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China, Pompeo said.
Our actions have been, and will continue to be, consistent with our position on religious freedom. No country, entity, or individual should be able to persecute people of faith without accountability. We have acted, and we will continue to do so, he said.
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