Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 11:30:52 -0800
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <>
From: Vietnam Insight <vinsight@NETCOM.COM>
Organization: Vietnam Insight
Subject: VI:Religious oppression in VN and U.S. policy
To: Multiple recipients of list SEASIA-L <>

Albright to appoint official on freedom of religion

Deutsche Press-Agentur, Saturday 24 January 1998, BC Cycle 02:28 Central European Time

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Friday she would appoint a special coordinator for religious freedom to ensure that our efforts to advance religious freedom are integrated successfully into our broader foreign policy.

Creation of the position, to be in the Bureau for Human Rights under Assistant Secretary John Shattuck, was the main recommendation contained in an interim report issued by a special commission on religious freedom established in November 1996.

I consider the promotion of religious freedom to be an integral component of U.S. foreign policy to be pursued not in isolation, but as part of our efforts to increase the respect for human rights around the world, Albright said.

The report drafted by the panel of religious leaders and foreign policy experts, criticized Russia for its 1997 law denying legal rights to some religions.

It also criticized Belgium, France and Germany for establishing government commissions on sects that run the risk of denying individuals the right to freedom of religion or belief. The report specifically said Scientologists in Germany had been subject to intense scrutiny and suffered harassment, discrimination, and threats of violence.

The report also cited official limits to freedom of worship in Iran for Baha'is and for all religions in China, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam.

Albright said the visit this week of Pope John Paul II to Cuba demonstrated the importance of freedom of religion.

Decades of repression could not vanquish the thirst for religious liberty on that island, just as it has not diminished the desire among the Cuban people for political liberty, she said.

The Cuban government did the right thing in permitting His Holiness, the Pope, to accept the invitation of his church to visit, she added.