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'Genocide and Oppression': Report Reveals Religious Freedom Deteriorating in China, Russia, Afghanistan

06-02-2022
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on the release of the 2021 International Religious Freedom Report, at the State Department, Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department released its 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom.

The annual report provides status updates on the state of religious freedom in nearly 200 countries around the world.   

This year's report highlighted countries that have made progress in expanding religious freedom as well as countries where religious freedom rights are deteriorating.  

One positive example Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned is Iraq's invitation to Pope Francis to make the first Papal visit to the country.    

"He sent a message not only to Iraqis but to the whole world that Islam and other religions can sit together peacefully," said Blinken. "Ultimately, this report is about spreading that kind of progress to more parts of the world." 

Still, the report reveals much more work to be done, calling out many repeat offenders, like China, for religious freedom violations. 

"China continues its genocide and oppression of predominately Muslim Uyghurs and other religious minority groups," continued Blinken. "Since April 2017, more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and others have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang." 

International Religious Freedom Ambassador Rashad Hussain claims Russia has doubled down on violations since invading Ukraine in March. 

"President Putin sought to justify the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine through the blatantly false pretext of de-Nazification," said Hussain. 

The report also highlighted how religious freedom has deteriorated since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in 2021.  

"The Taliban regime and rival militant group ISIS K have detained, intimidated, threatened, and attacked members of religious minority communities," continued Hussain.   

Hussain said thanks to technology and social media, the U.S. has more allies in efforts to combat religious freedom violators than ever before. 

"We have mechanisms to shed light on abuses taking place, and we have means to hold bad actors accountable," claimed Hussain.   

Secretary Blinken and Ambassador Hussain both emphasized America's commitment to protecting and advancing religious freedom rights around the world and urged foreign governments to speak out and protect the vulnerable.  

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