U.S. Slams 'Genocide' Against Uyghurs In China, Names Russia And Iran Among Worst Abusers Of Religious Rights

The U.S. State Department accused China of committing “genocide” against Muslim Uyghurs and other religious minorities in an annual report that also labeled Iran and Russia among the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the release of the State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report on May 12 to name and shame the most egregious violators of religious freedom, which he defined as a universal human right.
“Religious freedom can’t be fully realized unless other human rights are respected, and when governments violate their people’s right to believe and worship freely, it jeopardizes all the others,” Blinken said.
The Trump administration in January said that China's policies in Xinjiang constitute crimes against humanity and genocide, a position to which Blinken reiterated the Biden administration agrees. “China broadly criminalizes religious expression and continues to commit crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups,” Blinken said. Daniel Nadel, a senior official in the State Department's Office of International Freedom, said the situation in Xinjiang amounts to an effort by the Chinese government “to essentially turn the entire region into an open-air prison.” Describing a trove of evidence revealing forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, forced population control, and other abuses in Xinjiang, Nadal said China is trying to “erase a people, a history, a culture from the Earth.” In his comments, Blinken also hit on abuses of religious freedom in Iran, Burma (Myanmar), Russia, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia, all of which were identified in the report as top offenders. “In Russia, authorities continue to harass, detain, and seize property of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as members of Muslim minority groups on the pretense of alleged extremism,” Blinken said. The report itself said Russia continues to investigate, detain, imprison, torture, and physically abuse persons or seize their property because of their religious faith. On Iran, the report listed a litany of restrictions and punishments related to religious freedom, including on followers of the official Shi’ite Muslim faith. “Iran continues to intimidate, harass, and arrest members of minority faith groups, including Baha’i, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Sunni and Sufi Muslims,” Blinken said. In reviewing the contents of the report, Blinken highlighted rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred around the world as serious problems, including in the United States and Europe.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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