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Burma Challenges U.S. Religious Freedom Blacklist - 2003-03-08


Burma is challenging a United States move to place the mostly Buddhist country on a blacklist for abuse of religious freedom.

Burmese officials said that they were disappointed to learn the country was designated for "severe violations of religious freedom."

Burma said the U.S. decision was based on "hearsay evidence," and called the listing "unfair" and "insensitive."

The U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on Wednesday that Burma and five other countries had been designated as "countries of particular concern" on the issue of religious freedom. The listing opens up the possibility of economic sanctions against the nations.

Also included on the list are China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Sudan.

Earlier this week, the head of the World Council of Churches reached an agreement with the Burmese military government to probe charges of discrimination against Christians.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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