Monday, June 05, 2006

U.S. Oppression of Religion Criticized

The government of North Korea (that is, Kim Jong-Il) has criticized persecution of Muslims, citing themselves as the model of religious freedom [see this, this, and this, - ed.].


Pyongyang hits out as US "religious repression"
Rome (AsiaNews) - The US war on terrorism "is a hideous war aimed to abuse human rights of Iraqi and Afghan people" as well as being a "ruthless way to destroy religious freedom of Muslims". The charge was made today by the Korean Central News Agency, the official press agency of North Korea, one of the most oppressive and anti-liberal regimes in the world.

"The United States is contemplating expanding the theatre of the war of aggression to such Islamic countries as Iran and Syria, under the pretexts of development of nuclear weapons and support to terrorism, but its only aim is to arrest, imprison and persecute blameless Muslims."

The document continues: "The marines throw Muslims into detention camps reminiscent of the concentration camp operated by Nazi fascists. Not content, they commit such blasphemy as throwing a Koran into a chamber pot." The dispatch ends with a "warning" to Washington against pressing ahead with the war, given that "the international community is beginning to realize its true intentions: religious repression and clash of civilizations under the pretext of democracy". [The same international community that wants the North Korea to stop building nuclear weapons. - ed.]
So how does this paragon of virtue do with regard to religious freedom?
In North Korea, only the cult of the leader Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung is allowed. The regime has always sought to hinder the practice of religion and forces believers to register with organizations controlled by the party. Brutal and violent persecution of believers who do not register, and of those who undertake missionary activities, is frequent.

For its part, Pyongyang says religious freedom is present in the country and guaranteed by the Constitution: according to official government estimates, there are around 10,000 Buddhists, 10,000 Protestants and 4,000 Catholics. Government estimates only take into account those believers enrolled in recognized associations.

Since the Communist regime was installed in 1953, around 300,000 Christians have disappeared and there are no longer any priests or sisters, who may well have been killed during the persecutions. Currently there are around 80,000 in work camps, subjected to hunger, torture and even death.
So when is the "international community" going to hold North Korea to account?

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