US Criticizes China for Violations of Religious Freedom བོད་སྐད།

The United States says Burma, China and North Korea have continued to engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom over the past year.

The U.S. State Department, in an annual religious freedom report released Friday, listed the three East Asian nations as countries of particular concern, as it has for the past several years.

President George W. Bush's ambassador for religious freedom, John Hanford, said that after a violent Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule last March, authorities locked down monasteries, intensified `patriotic education' campaigns and detained an unknown number of monks and nuns or expelled them from monasteries.'' The government also was said to have increased its criticism of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, after the protests.

John Hanford, told reporters that the Tibetan issue has been a prominent part of a resumed U.S.-Chinese human rights dialogue.

The United States, he said, objects to harsh treatment of Buddhists loyal to the Dalai Lama and urged China's government to stop appointing and training lamas, Buddhist holy men.

``The Communist Party of China forbids its members and leaders from having any religious belief, and so there's an irony in the fact that the Communist government and party takes upon itself the prerogative of choosing religious leaders, such as lamas,'' Hanford said.

There was ``little evidence,'' the report said, that China's 2005 regulations on religious affairs had improved the country's spiritual situation.