Repression of religious minorities is increasing, says human rights group

Repression of religious minorities is increasing, says human rights group

Intolerance and violent repression of religious and ethnic minorities, often the most vulnerable groups in many societies, is on the increase, according to a prominent human rights advocacy group.

“There is a growing trend of growing intolerance,” Philippe Dam, acting Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, told ENInews.

Recently, he said, the advocacy body studied repression against Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Tibetan monasteries, and Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Dam, who conducts advocacy work at the UN Human Rights Council, emphasised, however, that in Egypt repression was going on beyond minority groups.

Egyptian security forces have also been quite infamous, he said, for the repression of political protesters and added that in China any kind of expression of dissent “is also repressed dreadfully” and any kind of opposition is also suppressed in Saudi Arabia.

On the October 9 massacre of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the third such incident this year, Dam said that “impunity for violence against groups of people belonging to minority groups is what is fuelling the violence.”

Asked how religious minorities could be better protected, Dam said the issue of accountability was very important. Any use of violence or acts of repression against people belonging to religious minorities should be thoroughly investigated and individuals responsible should be bought to justice, he said.

In Egypt, there was a need for “better protection” for the Coptic community, Human Rights Watch said.

In China, it said, the government “should immediately end excessive restrictions” on the Kirti monastery where seven monks this year have set themselves on fire to protest such security measures as detentions and blockades.

In Saudi Arabia, authorities should immediately stop arbitrary arrests of Shia in the Eastern province.

By John Zarocostas, Ecumenical News International

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