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North Korea dismisses as farce US international religions freedom report

July 31, 2014, 10:14 UTC+3 PYONGYANG
The attempts to inflict damage on North Korea by the absurd slander of the absence of religious freedoms “are absolutely senseless”, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency says
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 A view of Pyongyang plaza (archive)

A view of Pyongyang plaza (archive)

© EPA/ITAR-TASS

PYONGYANG, July 31. /ITAR-TASS/. North Korea has dismissed as “a farce” the US State Department’s annual report on the freedom of belief in the world, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Thursday. The authors of the report included North Korea in the list of countries where the situation with religion causes Washington’s “special concern.”

The agency dubbed as hypocritical the religious freedom discourse of the State Department of the United States, which “is responsible for the destabilisation of the world situation and change of regimes in the countries with the policy of which it is dissatisfied.” KCNA added that US former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other leaders of the country pursued the policy “aimed at the overthrow of the governments in Muslim states under the pretext of combating terrorism.”

The North Korean agency also said that Washington, annually criticising North Korea in various reports, seeks “to smear the reputation of the People’s Republic and isolate it in the international arena.” However, the attempts to inflict damage on North Korea by the absurd slander of the absence of religious freedoms “are absolutely senseless.” The North Korean constitution, the agency says, “fully guarantees the freedom of belief to the country’s citizens.”

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour “International Religious Freedom Report for 2013” was presented by Secretary of State John Kerry at a special briefing on July 28.

The report gives a list of the countries where religious freedom is violated. It includes, aside from North Korea, such countries as Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan and others.

The report authors also said that “In Russia, the government used a new law against “extremism” and amendments to existing laws to further restrict the activities of members of minority religious groups, including making it illegal for foreigners to participate in religious organisations. The government continued to grant the Russian Orthodox Church a privileged position, but generally allowed other established Judeo-Christian groups to practice their beliefs freely,” it says. “Police across the country participated in raids on private homes and places of worship of minority religious groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and followers of Sunni theologian Said Nursi,” the report says. “Local officials often refused minority groups permission to establish houses of worship. Especially after instances of extremist violence in the North Caucasus, members of Muslim ethnic groups were subjected to physical attacks and social discrimination. Violence against moderate religious leaders in the North Caucasus continued,” it says.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the religious survey of the American colleagues, in which dismissed the report as biased and added that a number of countries would rightfully challenge its fairness.

“As for the Russian section of the report, it again contains a set of insinuations and dubious interpretations of internal Russian processes,” said Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov. “Washington still refuses to notice the big and consistent work that is carried out in our country for ensuring peaceful constructive coexistence of all the traditional religions, represented in the Russian Federation.

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