As religious freedom summit ends, State Department announces new alliance, sanctions

Religion News Service | 7/18/2019 | Staff
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WASHINGTON (RNS) — Trump administration officials announced a new alliance with U.S. partners focused on religious freedom and new sanctions against foreign military officials supporting countries the U.S. considers to be instigators of religious persecution.

The developments Thursday (July 18) were among the highlights of the last day of the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Foreign ministers also took turns stating ways their nations are working to affirm religious liberty. That followed two days of meetings where survivors shared their stories of persecution and some of the almost 900 religious leaders and activists in attendance made plans to foster interfaith understanding.

Gathering - Representatives - Countries - Secretary - State

Before a gathering of representatives of 106 countries, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced plans to create the International Religious Freedom Alliance.

“We hope that this new vehicle — the first-ever international body devoted to this specific topic – will build on efforts to date and bring like-minded countries together to confront challenges of international religious freedom,” he said. “It will provide a space for the work that we do here to flourish throughout the year.”

Vice - President - Mike - Pence - Day

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking later in the day, announced that the U.S. had placed sanctions on two leaders of Iranian-backed militias, groups he said have “terrorized the people of the Nineveh Plain,” a region of northern Iraq where religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis, are persecuted.

“The United States stands with all victims of religious persecution and the American people have them in our hearts — and in our prayers,” said Pence.

Week - Administration - Designations - Officials - Myanmar

Earlier in the week, the administration placed designations on several military officials in Myanmar, preventing them from entering the United States due to what the State Department said was their involvement in the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority with some 700,000 members who have been forced into refugee camps in neighboring...
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