International

US removes Nigeria from religious violators’ list

The United States has removed Nigeria from its list of religious violators, and  blacklisted Russia, China and eight others as countries of ”particular concern” for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.

It also designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as entities of Particular Concern.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, disclosed this yesterday in a statement, titled ”Religious Freedom Designations.”

The US had in 2020 placed Nigeria and six other countries on its special watch list of states that had engaged in or tolerated severe violation of religious freedom.

The country was, however, missing from the list of countries designated in the 2021 list for religious violations.

Blinken, who is currently in Kenya on an official visit, is scheduled to physically visit Nigeria this week and meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other members of his cabinet.

The statement read:  “The United States will not waiver in its commitment to advocate freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country.

”In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs.

”This administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right.

“Each year, the Secretary of State has the responsibility to identify governments and non-state actors, who, because of their religious freedom violations, merit designation under the International Religious Freedom Act.

“I am designating Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

“I am also placing Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.” ”Finally, I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as entities of Particular Concern.

“The challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched. They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community’s urgent attention.

“We will continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their laws and practices, and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses.

”The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and members of religious communities to advance religious freedom around the world and address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe.”

In a related development, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has said it is awaiting clearer details of an attack by suspected Ambazonian separatists in Taraba State from its local sources.

Palpable tension had gripped residents of Takum Local Government Area of the state when the Ambazonian fighters from the Republic of Cameroon stormed the community.

The attack, it was gathered, claimed 11 persons, including a traditional ruler during a siege that took place in the early hours of yesterday, at Manga community.

CAN Chairman in Taraba State, Rev Isaiah Magaji told Vanguard that the umbrella Christians’ body was watching the situation with interest and monitoring the activities of the foreign separatists and the Federal Government on the attack. 

He said, “By tomorrow, you need to call me. I would not want to give you incomplete information or obscure facts about the incident. We are monitoring the situation for more details.”

In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of CAN (Northern region), Rev. John Hayab, told Vanguard that the religious organization was very much concerned with the safety of all Nigerians.

He, however, said the matter of security of lives and property whether from internal or external aggressors was up to the Federal Government to handle for the good of the nation. 

Hayab, however, slammed political leaders for allegedly seeking to cover up for their failures through diplomatic means.

“What is happening to us in Nigeria? What we can see being done now is that our leaders are mounting pressure on foreign governments to cover up for their crimes,” he stated.

SOURCE: Vanguard News Nigeria

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