U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks as he attends a civil society roundtable at the Sankara Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, November 17, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS)

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has included Myanmar (Burma), China, Eritrea, Iran , North Korea, Pakistan , Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan on the list of countries of “particular concern” for participating in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, and gross violations of religious freedom.”

Blinken also put Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on a “special watch list” of governments that have engaged in or tolerated “gross violations of religious freedom.”

The US State Department has designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS in the Greater Sahara, ISIS in West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam and Muslims, and the Taliban, as entities of particular concern.


“Each year, the Secretary of State has the responsibility to determine which governments and non-state actors deserve designation under international religious freedom law for their violations of religious freedom,” Secretary Blinken said in a statement.

He explained that “the challenges facing religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, deeply entrenched and present in every country. They require a sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution. They also require urgent attention from the international community.”

Blinken stressed that the United States “will continue to pressure all governments to address the shortcomings in their laws and practices, and to promote accountability for those responsible. It remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and members of religious communities to advance religious freedom around the world and address the suffering of individuals and communities facing abuse treatment, harassment, and discrimination based on what they believe or do not believe in.”

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