US commission on religious freedom to visit India next month

By: Dibin Samuel
Saturday, 2 May 2009, 16:15 (IST)
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The annual report by the independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Friday said it would visit India next month to closely scrutinize the religious freedom and restrictions in the country.

The report by the US congressional panel while named 13 countries as serious violators of religious freedom, said India's case is 'pending' and will be examined by a team of religious analysts visiting the country in June.

"The Commission is planning to travel to India for the first time in June 2009. Therefore the Commission will release its report on India during this summer," the report said.

The announcement apparently provides a ray of hope for church leaders who have been greatly peeved at the recent atrocities on Christians, including the Orissa violence which marred the secular fabric of the country.

Interestingly, the report mentioned the name of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the only individual who has been denied an American visa under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

Modi was denied visa for severe violations of religious freedom.

Meanwhile, the report has also noted last year's arrest of 15 Indian Christians in Qassim province of Saudi Arabia. "In May 2008, government officials arrested 15 Indian Christians in the Qassim Province for conducting their religious worship in private.”

“During the raid, a CPVPV member reportedly beat the pastor, and Christian songbooks and Bibles were confiscated,” it said.

The USCIRF report has listed Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam, as being the world’s biggest and worst violators of religious freedom and human rights. It is listed under ‘country of particular concern’.

The list includes name of such countries where the governments have been unable or unwilling to counter religious violence, and discriminate against people on religious basis.

On neighboring Sri Lanka the report said that religious minorities had been attacked in their places of worship. It also denounced the legislation on religious conversions which it said would violate international law.

The USCIRF is a US government-funded agency created to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments.

It further gives independent policy recommendations to the US President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress.

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Have your say on this article

Added: Saturday, 2 May 2009, 18:23 (IST)

I hope that their arrival be really a strength to Christians in India. We really need an international voice like the US which can speak for the suffering here. The Indian government considers America a really important ally and its words are marked with great respect. I will pray the visit can free the oppressed church in this great land.

Titus, India

Added: Saturday, 2 May 2009, 22:13 (IST)

Just because America is an ally will India be helped? I dont think so. The panel visiting India should take the issue of violence on Christians with the UN. I am sure instead of US, if the UN interferes, the case is solved.

John, America

Added: Saturday, 30 May 2009, 19:25 (IST)

In India Human Rights are incorporated in Constitution as fundamental rights and state is declared secular but all seems as ornamental, Real picture is just opposite of it. On every step minority people those are in lords ministry gets threats and tortured and killed. Police and other law enforcer's mind set works behind and even they support to culprits too. There is no genocide law in India but available law is only treating to communal riots, means those were killed in deep asleep Fathers and Sisters by Hindu Fundamentalists fought against and did riots, means Hindu Fundamentalists were innocent they killed Fathers & Sisters in self defense. There is no law for crime of apartheid in India suppose that some Christian or Muslim people comes to face discriminatory behavior by Majority community in job, any where in public place there is no legal remedy for them. In India discrimination is defined for only women, some reserve Hindu communities. Hindu fundamentalists are uncontrolled and are free to do everything without any fear of law or constitution to expand their illegal activities to persecute minority people India.These Organizations RSS, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahinee etc. alliance group of Vishva Hindu Parishad are terrorist in true sense must be banned other wise these terrorist group will be threat to whole world. All these Hundu Fundamentalist group brings money from abroad and gets currency exchange benefits and threats to poor minority people and poor reserve community and poor women too.

A.B. Paul, Jaipur,Rajasthan,India

Added: Saturday, 30 May 2009, 19:34 (IST)

I hope that International observer will find out the real religious problem in India and same will brings to Indian authority to solve the problem what minority people are facing now. I thank God who defeated the communal forces in recent election other wise problem could be worst than present scenario. I will pray to Lord to succeed them in their mission in India.

A.B. Paul, Jaipur, India

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