Saturday, September 16, 2006

U.S. report: Religious freedom 'poor' in North Korea

The United States released its eighth annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and included China, North Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos on a list of countries "where religious freedom is of significant interest."

The report says that China's "respect for the freedom of religion and freedom of conscience remained poor," adding "there was little evidence that new regulations on religious affairs, which took effect in 2005, improved the situation of religious freedom."

"In the last two or three years, we've seen a number of setbacks, and sometimes very harsh treatment, surprisingly so, for minority faiths or for faiths that are not accepted by the government," said Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom John V. Hanford III.

Concerning North Korea, the report said, "genuine religious freedom does not exist, and there was no change in the extremely poor level of respect for religious freedom."

"In the communist world in general, we see a gradual easing of religious persecution. There are serious exceptions to this, North Korea being the most blatant, where things are horribly restrictive and oppressive," Hanford also said.

[Kyodo News]

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