US slams China over religious freedoms
US: The United States warned the world was sliding backwards on
religious freedoms Monday, slamming China for cracking down on Tibetan
Buddhists and hitting out at Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As the State Department unveiled its first report on religious
freedoms since the start of the Arab Spring, Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said it was a “signal to the worst offenders” that the world was
“New technologies have given repressive governments additional tools
for cracking down on religious expression,” Clinton told a US
think-tank, adding that pressure was rising on some faith groups around
“More than a billion people live under governments that
systematically suppress religious freedom,” she stressed.
“When it comes to this human right -- this key feature of stable,
secure, peaceful societies -- the world is sliding backward.” The 2011
International Religious Freedom Report noted that last year governments
increasingly used blasphemy laws to “restrict religious liberty,
constrain the rights of religious minorities and limit freedom of
Highlighting the situation in Indonesia and Afghanistan, the report
recalled the case in Pakistan of Aasia Bibi, the first Christian woman
to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in the country.
And while in Afghanistan the constitution says that followers of
other religions are free to worship as they please it also maintains
“that Islam is the 'religion of the state,'” the report said. The Afghan
government's “failure to protect minority religious groups and
individuals limited religious freedom,” it insisted.
In China “there was a marked deterioration during 2011 in the
government's respect for and protection of religious freedom in China,”
the report said.
This included “increased restrictions on religious practice,
especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.”
“Official interference” in traditional Tibetan religious practices
had “exacerbated grievances and contributed to at least 12
self-immolations by Tibetans in 2011.”
China and North Korea, where the report noted that religious freedom
does not exist in any form. AFP