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U.S. blasts China over worsening religious freedom.

WASHINGTON, July 30 Kyodo

The United States criticized China over worsening religious freedom in the country in an annual report released Monday, saying the Asian country continued to harass religious minorities in the Tibetan and Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous regions.

In the International Religious Report for 2011, the State Department said, "There was a marked deterioration during 2011 in the government's respect for and protection of religious freedom in China."

In the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other areas, there were "increased restrictions on religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries," the report said.

"Tibetan Buddhists in China are not free to venerate the Dalai Lama and encounter severe government interference in religious practice," it said.

The Chinese government also "continued to severely repress Muslims" in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and other parts of China, the report said.

The U.S. report also lashed out Iran, saying religious freedom in the country "deteriorated further from an already egregious situation." Government imprisonment, harassment, intimidation and discrimination based on religious beliefs continued in 2011, it said.

On North Korea, the U.S. assessment was even more severe. "Religious freedom does not exist in any form in North Korea," the report said.

The government dealt harshly with those who engaged in religious activities it deemed unacceptable and those who were in contact with foreigners or missionaries were arrested and subjected to harsh penalties, the report said, citing reports by refugees, defectors and members of nongovernmental organizations.

While refugees and defectors said they have witnessed or heard of arrests and possible execution of underground Christian church members in prior years, the continuation of arrests and executions in 2011 remained difficult to quantify due to inaccessibility of information in the country, the report said.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Aug 6, 2012
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