Representative of Freedom House Agency to Report on Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Vietnam

( [email protected] ) Oct 05, 2004 09:49 PM EDT

A representative from America’s oldest human rights groups will testify tomorrow before the House International Relations Committee in Washington, D.C., on the State Department’s Country Report on Religious Freedom. In his testimony Dr. Paul Marshall of Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom will focus on six countries—Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Egypt, China and Iraq—with particular emphasis on new developments in Vietnam, Iraq and Saudi Arabia

During the full Committee hearing to be held tomorrow morning, Marshall will point to evidence that Vietnamese authorities continue to carry out anti-Christian persecution against Hmong and Montagnard ethnic minorities. Vietnam, which was recently designated as a “country of particular concern” by the U.S. State Department in its report on International Freedom, has often denied accusations made by human rights organizations and religious persecution watchdogs.

The New York-based agency of Freedom House also reported that Marshall will speak of the growing evidence of ethnic cleansing against native Chaldo-Assyrian Christians in Iraq. According to reports, tens of thousands of Chaldo-Assyrians are believed to have fled Iraq since coordinated church bombings in Mosul and Baghdad during Sunday worship services on August 1. Approximately 800,000 Christians remain in Iraq, constituting the largest non-Muslim minority.

At the hearing, Marshall will also bring attention to proposals of the Chaldo-Assyrian community, including the creation of a safe haven in Iraq, as described in Article 53D of the Transitional Administrative Law.

In addition, the organization reports that Marshall will also welcome the addition of Saudi Arabia to the U.S. list of “countries of particular concern.” He will discuss an issue not addressed in the State Department’s recent report on global religious freedom: the world-wide proliferation of Saudi-based extremist Wahhabi ideology, which advocates violence against Christians, Jews and other religious believers including moderate Muslims.

The Center for Religious Freedom is currently preparing a report on Saudi-propagated Wahhabi materials that have been collected from mosques in the United States.

Since its inception in 1986, the Center for Religious Freedom has reported on the religious persecution of individuals and groups abroad, and undertaken advocacy on their behalf in the media, Congress, State Department and White House. It also sponsors investigative field missions and presses official Washington for overall religious freedom in China, Sudan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere.

The organization is a self-sustaining division of Freedom House--America's oldest human rights group, founded in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie to oppose Nazism and Communism in Europe.