U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has designated China, Russia and eight other countries as violators of religious freedom.

Blinken said in a statement Wednesday that the 10 countries “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” 

The U.S. secretary of state compiles a list of such countries each year. Other countries on this year’s list are Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Eritrea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan.

Nigeria, which was on the list last year and which Blinken is scheduled to visit this week, was removed.

Algeria, Comoros, Nicaragua and Cuba were added to a watch list for engaging in or tolerating “severe violations of religious freedom.” 

“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,” Blinken said.   

Blinken began a five-day, three-nation tour of Africa on Wednesday during which he will discuss with leaders rising threats to democracy on the continent, among other issues. 

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse. 


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