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2007 International Religious Freedom Report

2007 International Religious Freedom Report

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Preface, Introduction, and Executive Summary of the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 International Religious Freedom Report. This report includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. To view complete Country Reports, visit: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/index.htm
Preface, Introduction, and Executive Summary of the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 International Religious Freedom Report. This report includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. To view complete Country Reports, visit: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/index.htm

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Published by: U.S. Department of State on Oct 30, 2009
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2007 PrefaceInternational Religious Freedom Report 2007Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborWhy the Reports are PreparedThis report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliancewith Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. Thelaw provides that the Secretary of State, with the assistance of the Ambassador atLarge for International Religious Freedom, shall transmit to Congress "an AnnualReport on International Religious Freedom supplementing the most recent HumanRights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect tomatters involving international religious freedom."How the Reports are PreparedU.S. embassies prepare the initial drafts of these reports, gathering informationfrom a variety of sources, including government and religious officials,nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, religiousgroups, and academics. This information-gathering can be hazardous, and U.S.Foreign Service Officers regularly go to great lengths, under trying and sometimesdangerous conditions, to investigate reports of human rights abuse, to monitorelections, and to come to the aid of individuals at risk because of theirreligious beliefs.The Office of International Religious Freedom collaborated in collecting andanalyzing information for the country reports, drawing on the expertise of otherDepartment of State offices, religious organizations, other non-governmentalorganizations, foreign government officials, representatives from the UnitedNations and other international and regional organizations and institutions, andexperts from academia and the media. In compiling and editing the country reports,the Office of International Religious Freedom consulted with experts on issues ofreligious discrimination and persecution, religious leaders from a wide variety offaiths, and experts on legal matters. The office’s guiding principle was to ensurethat all relevant information was assessed as objectively, thoroughly, and fairlyas possible.The report will be used by a wide range of U.S. government departments, agencies,and offices to shape policy; conduct diplomacy; inform assistance, training, andother resource allocations; and help determine which countries have engaged in ortolerated "particularly severe violations" of religious freedom, otherwise knownas Countries of Particular Concern.A Word on UsageWhen this report states that a government "generally respected" the right ofreligious freedom over the reporting period, this phrase signifies that thegovernment attempted to protect religious freedom in the fullest sense. "Generallyrespected" is thus the highest level of respect for religious freedom assigned bythis report. The phrase "generally respected" is used because the protection andpromotion of religious freedom is a dynamic endeavor; it cannot be statedcategorically that any government fully respected this right over the reportingyear, even in the best of circumstances.Acknowledgements
 
The 2007 report covers the period from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007, andreflects a year of dedicated effort by hundreds of Foreign Service and CivilService Officers in the Department of State and U.S. missions abroad. We thank themany Foreign Service Officers at our embassies and consulates abroad formonitoring and promoting religious freedom, and for chronicling in detail thestatus of religious liberty. In addition to their efforts, we acknowledge thediligent labor and tireless commitment to religious freedom of those within theOffice of International Religious Freedom whose work made this report possible:Clarissa Adamson, Julia Becker, Judson Birdsall, Mary Anne Borst, Sandra Bunn-Livingstone, Cierra Burnett, Barbara Cates, Warren Cofsky, A. Jack Croddy, DougDearborn, Lauren Diekman, Augustine Fahey, Carrie Flinchbaugh, Maureen Gaffney,Albert Gombis, Noel Hartley, Caitlin Helfrich, Nancy Hewett, Olivia Hilton, VictorHuser, Emilie Kao, Justin Kern, Stephen Liston, Kathryn Lurie, Gwendolyn Mack,Courtney Magill, Safia Mohamoud, Joannella Morales, Aaron Pina, Danielle Polebaum,David Rodearmel, Deborah Schneider, Suzanne Sittichai, Rebecca Struwe, H. KnoxThames, and Gilberto Torresvela. The work of all of these individuals advances thecause of freedom, ensures accuracy in our reporting, and brings hope to repressedpeople around the world.Released September 20072007 IntroductionInternational Religious Freedom Report 2007Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor"The freedom to worship is so central to America's character that we tend to takeit personally when that freedom is denied to others. Our country was a leadingvoice on behalf of the Jewish refusniks in the Soviet Union. Americans joined incommon cause with Catholics and Protestants who prayed in secret behind the IronCurtain. America has stood with Muslims seeking to freely practice their beliefsin places such as Burma and China."--President George W. Bush, June 27, 2007Our founding fathers established religious liberty as the cornerstone of America'sconstitutional system by enshrining it in the First Amendment of our Bill ofRights. Many of our nation's early settlers fled religious persecution to come toAmerica; hence they vividly understood the importance of religious freedom.Hanging over one of the main entrances to the U.S. Department of State is a muralthat vividly captures this commitment. The 50-by-12 foot painting by KindredMcLeary represents the freedoms of worship, speech, assembly, and the press (aportion of the mural is highlighted on the cover of this year's Report materials).The mural was completed in 1942 at the height of one of the most challengingperiods in the history of our country. The mural serves today as a potent reminderthat, even at times of great national challenge and threat, the heart of ourforeign policy encompasses the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms,starting with freedom of worship.The United States is not alone in this commitment to religious freedom. Theinternational community has repeatedly declared that freedom of religion is afundamental human right. Such declarations can be found in Article 18 of the UN
 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16 of the Vienna ConcludingDocument of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Article 12 ofthe American Declaration of Human Rights of the Organization of American States,and Article 9 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and FundamentalFreedoms of the Council of Europe.The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is particularlynoteworthy, as it made binding the aspirational rights highlighted in theUniversal Declaration. Article 18 declares, "Everyone shall have the right tofreedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom tohave or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, eitherindividually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest hisreligion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching." Article 18 ofthe Covenant goes on to state that "No one shall be subject to coercion whichwould impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice."Unfortunately, as individuals and communities struggle for religious freedom manygovernments ignore their international obligations. In too many countries,governments refuse to recognize and protect religious freedom, and millions sufferas a result. In some cases, religious believers are imprisoned or physicallyabused, simply for the courage of their convictions. In others, they are deniedthe freedom to choose their faith or talk about it openly. One contemporaryexample of a threat to this freedom is a trend of new laws that, ironically, inthe name of tolerance, bars discussion of varied religious viewpoints within areligion or between varying belief systems.In response to these and other threats to free religious practice, the U.S.Congress in 1998 passed the International Religious Freedom Act. The Actreaffirmed that it is the policy of the United States to "condemn violations ofreligious freedom, and to promote, and to assist other governments in thepromotion of, the fundamental right to freedom of religion." Most importantly, theAct declares the United States will stand for liberty and stand with thepersecuted.The Act established the Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF Office) inthe U.S. Department of State and mandated the publication of the Annual Report onInternational Religious Freedom. This Report covers the entire world and is themost comprehensive catalogue of both religious freedom abuses and of improvementswith respect to this fundamental right. The final product represents countlesshours of investigation, documentation, and analysis by U.S. embassies andconsulates abroad and by IRF Office staff in Washington. Because of thismeticulous work and its broad coverage, the Annual Report on InternationalReligious Freedom is read by both the powerful and the powerless, by the victimsof religious persecution and by those with the ability to remedy such abuse.The International Religious Freedom Act also mandated the creation of anAmbassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, who acts as principaladviser to both the President and the Secretary of State on advancing religiousfreedom worldwide. The Ambassador's role, supported by the IRF Office and inconcert with other U.S. officials, is to provide a voice for the voiceless and theoppressed. I and my staff engage governments, be they ally or adversary, to raiseconcerns across the full range of religious freedom violations. We also workwithin our government to help ensure U.S. foreign policy reflects our country'shistoric commitment to religious freedom.Thankfully, our nation and the Department of State are led by individuals with adeep commitment to this issue. Both President Bush and Secretary of State Ricehave done much to promote religious freedom around the world. The Congress has

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