USA (MNN) — The United States recently released a profile of this year’s “countries of particular concern.” While the 2016 CPC list featured a couple of nations that should’ve been included a long time ago, it had no mention of Iraq or Syria.
The CPC list provides opportunities for policies to be imposed, encouraging religious freedom in the countries listed. Leaving Iraq and Syria off the list threatens to condone the atrocities happening to religious minorities in the two countries.
Emily Fuentes with Open Doors USA explains, “Typically this list is more about human rights violations that come from governments rather than outside agencies.” Since ISIS atrocities occuring in Iraq and Syria don’t count as government oppression, they’re not a ‘concern’ to U.S. officials.
“It’s not governments that are the number one driving force anymore, it’s extremist groups. We have to recognize they’re the ones causing the human rights violations, they’re the ones causing genocide, and change our definitions accordingly,” Fuentes says.
Millions of people, mainly religious minorities, have been killed, enslaved, and displaced because of the persecution and war in Iraq and Syria. The persecution is caused mainly by ISIS, and the 43 terrorist groups who’ve pledged themselves to the prior.
“When it comes to this list and its precursors of evaluating human rights violations, we should expand it beyond just government, because of what’s happening from a genocidal standpoint from a nongovernmental group,” Fuentes expresses.
Others from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) — a bipartisan group created under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act — seem to agree. In a story by The Christian Post, USCIRF Chair Robert P George calls on the Obama administration for honesty regarding the conditions surrounding religious freedom abuses in Iraq and Syria.
Reportedly, Iraq was omitted from the CPC list because the Iraqi government has been making efforts to stop the violence against its people. But grounds for Syria’s absence seem to be lacking. Syria’s president and his regime are accused of committing crimes against their own people.
The violence and injustice blazing through Iraq and Syria do not mean God is absent.
“It’s in countries where persecution’s the worse [where] we often find that the Gospel’s spreading the most,” Fuentes says. “God’s using…people who remain to be His voice of spreading His Gospel, and even though the enemy tries to use persecution as a tactic to destroy the Church, more and more people are coming to Christ.”
ISIS members, other persecutors of Christians, are coming to Christ — right in the same area where Paul first met Jesus, on the road to Damascus. Pray for Iraq and Syria, the Christians there, and for Christ to continue to reveal Himself and for His word to continue being heard. For more prayer requests from Open Doors, click here!
At this time the CPC list consists of Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The USCIRF is recommending the U-S government to included the following countries as well: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, and Vietnam.