The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's first annual report recommends ending religious-rights abuses in China, Russia, and Sudan through tighter economic sanctions. Last year the commission listed offenses committed against religious groups in various countries of the world (CT, Oct.4, 1999, p. 25).This report, released May 1, seeks to influence American foreign policy toward offending nations. The report asks the U.S. government to prevent companies that do business with China and Sudan, for example, from offering shares of common stock in U.S. equity markets. Noting China's "egregious, systematic persecution of religious people of practically every faith," the report asks the federal government not to make normal trade relations permanent until China makes "substantial improvement in respect for religious freedom." The report also criticizes recent Russian efforts to dissolve religious groups not registered with the government by year's end. The commission also recommends that the U.S. government establish a "military no-fly zone" in Sudan. The Sudanese military has bombed civilian targets, including hospitals, regularly in the South.In an unusual turn of events, the report also skewers the State Department, saying it withheld documents about economic sanctions against Sudan from commission members who had requisite security clearance.
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