The United States has retained Myanmar on a list of countries that it accuses of serious violations of religious freedom, the US State Department said in a statement on January 4.
China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were also re-designated as “countries of particular concern” for violating religious freedom on the list released by US Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson.
He also placed Pakistan on a special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom.
The list has been released each year since 1998 under the International Religious Freedom Act.
It requires the Secretary of State to designate governments regarded as having “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations” of religious freedom.
“These designations are aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries,” said the State Department in a statement that described the protection of religious freedom as being vital to peace, stability and prosperity.
“We recognize that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; we welcome these initiatives and look forward to continued dialogue,” the statement said.
“The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world,” it said.