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China restricting religious freedom, says Clinton

September 14, 2011 02:35 IST

The Chinese government is restricting individuals, in particular those of the minority community, from their religious practices, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.

"In China, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, house church Christians all suffer from government attempts to restrict their religious practice," she said on the occasion of release of the 13th Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, according to which the overall level of respect for religious freedom declined in 2010.

The report designates eight states as countries of particular concern. They are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan; all of which, the report said, have been long-term, chronic and egregious violators of religious freedom.

"We see many countries where governments deny their people the most fundamental human rights to believe according to their own conscience, including the freedom to not believe or not follow the religion favoured by their government; the right to practice their religion freely, without risking discrimination, arrest or violence; and the right to educate their children in their own religious traditions and the freedom to express their beliefs," she said.

"In Iran, authorities continue to repress Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Sunnis, Ahmadis and others who do not share the government's religious views," Clinton said.

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner said the report documents in full detail the violations of religious freedom across the world.

"In Burma, for example, hundreds of Buddhist monks are still in prison, and the government refuses to recognise that the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, are Burmese citizens," he said.

"In China, the government's overall level of respect for religious freedom declined in 2010 and has worsened this year. The repression of Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims continues. We have concerns about the treatment of those who are in unregistered churches, so-called house churches, the Shouwang church, for example, in Beijing, where, beginning around Eastertime, people were not allowed to gather and a number of the leaders of that church were put in prison," Posner said.

"We have concerns about the Uighur community and restrictions on Muslim religion. We have concerns about the Tibetan community -- the Kirti monastery, where 300 monks were taken from the monastery and detained," he added.

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