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Watchdog critiques Iran and 27 other countries for violation of religious freedom

The U.S. Commission on International Religious freedom, a watchdog concerned with religious freedom worldwide, has critiqued Iran and 27 other countries through its new annual report for violating rights relating to religion. The watchdog condemned Iran for suppressing the religious rights of varied faith groups as well as nonreligious communities and denounced the application of violence against women’s rights protesters. USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel has pointed out that peaceful protestors in Iran have been killed by security forces while others have been arrested and tortured. At the same time, not only men and women, but also girls and boys have been subject to violence.

Religious News Service:

(RNS) — A watchdog for global religious freedom has used its new annual report to call out the Iranian government for targeting women’s rights protesters during demonstrations last year. The report also points out the country’s “decades-long campaign” against religious minorities.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized Iran for repressing the religious rights of people of a variety of faiths — from Baha’i to Zoroastrian — and nonreligious communities and decried the use of violence against girls and young women who protested in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death. Amini, 22, perished after the country’s morality police detained her last year based on an accusation that her visible hair breached a headscarf law.

“While religious freedom conditions in Iran were extremely poor even before protests began in September 2022, they have deteriorated considerably due to the government’s severe brutality against Iranians peacefully asserting their religious freedom,” said USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel, during a Monday (May 1) virtual event when the 2023 USCIRF report was released.

“Iran’s security forces have shot and killed peaceful protesters, detained and tortured others and engaged in a systematic campaign of sexual and gender-based violence against not only women and men, but boys and girls as well.”

These circumstances were determined by USCIRF to be “systematic, egregious, and ongoing” religious freedom violations, which qualify Iran to remain on the State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs.

The watchdog has called for the redesignation of a total of a dozen countries as CPCs: Myanmar (which the department and USCIRF refer to as Burma), China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

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