India is among countries where religious freedom is infringed and governments tolerate violence, says the US International Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a global report into reli- gious freedom.
On September 4, USCIRF released its report (2018) into the religious freedom that identified high levels of religious repression in 28 countries.
India comes under Tier 2 countries — nations where the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2017 are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing and egregious’ CPC [country of particular concern] standard.”
Other countries in this category are: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
These countries, USCIRF says, “represent the most pressing religious freedom concerns worldwide and the most promising avenues for addressing them through US foreign policy.” The US body has listed 16 countries as Tier 1 – the harshest level of repression. They are Myanmar, Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
Myanmar, China, Iran and Sudan have been designated as countries of particular concern in every USCIRF report since its first report in 1999. The annual report, issued on August 29, focused on three themes: advocacy for the release of specific prisoners, the use of blasphemy laws in place in at least 69 countries and which “should be repealed,” the report said, and women and religious freedom. It also focused on seven “religious prisoners of conscience” in hopes of reducing the number world- wide of such prisoners and to highlight the conditions in each country that led to their imprisonment. One of the seven was the Rev. Andrew Brunson, who is still under house arrest in Turkey after having been jailed for nearly two years, and which has led to US economic sanctions against Turkey in retaliation for its refusal to free him.