HomeLatest NewsReligious freedom: US again fails to designate India as country of ‘particular concern’

Religious freedom: US again fails to designate India as country of ‘particular concern’

US must name India among world’s worst religious persecutors for anti-minority violence: USCIRF

WASHINGTON: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has called for a congressional hearing after expressing disappointment over the US Department of State’s continuous failure to designate India as a “Country of Particular Concern (CPC)”.

The commission stated this in response to the State Department’s list of the countries designated as CPCs.

Secretary of State Antony J Blinken, following the core objective of US foreign policy as per the International Religious Freedom Act 1998, has designated Burma, China, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern “for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom”.

Blinken said he had designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Sahel, ISIS-West Africa, al-Qa’ida affiliate Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern” as well.

USCIRF Chair Abraham Cooper and Vice Chair Frederick A Davie in a joint statement said there was no justification as to why the State Department did not designate India as a Country of Particular Concern, despite its own reporting and statements.

The USCIRF called on Congress to convene a public hearing on the failure of the State Department to follow their recommendations, they said.

“In India, in addition to perpetrating egregious religious freedom violations within its borders, the government has increased its transnational repression activities targeting religious minorities abroad and those advocating on their behalf,” stated Cooper and Davie.

The USCIRF said since the issuance of its 2023 Annual Report, it had consistently shared its recommendations with the US Department of State and Congress.

In early December 2023, the USCIRF met with Antony Blinken to reiterate those recommendations. USCIRF released publications on India’s State-Level Anti-Conversion Laws and Religious Freedom.

The top USCIRF officials said, “USCIRF rejects the State Department’s decision to omit India as the CPC.”

They said they met with the State Department on many occasions to sound the alarm about the country, but not all of their recommendations had been followed.

“We will not be deterred and will continue our role as a congressionally mandated watchdog to ensure the US government prioritises religious freedom as a key component of its foreign policy.”

The State Department placed Algeria, Azerbaijan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Comoros, and Vietnam on its Special Watch List (SWL). The USCIRF had recommended in its 2023 Annual Report that Algeria, Azerbaijan, and CAR be placed on the SWL, in addition to Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. Reuters

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