The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada on Thursday expressed concerns about religious oppression in China and Pakistan, PTI reported. The statements were made at a meeting in New York on safety of religious minorities in armed conflict. It was organised by Poland, which is the United Nations Security Council President for August.

President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan Naveed Walter informed the United Nations about the “biased behaviour” of the Chinese and Pakistani governments towards minority communities. He said national security was being used in countries such as China to infringe upon religious freedom of minorities, ANI reported.

“Today, a large number of people are marginalised in their own societies,” Walter said. “The biased behaviour dwells in other areas also, like the minorities on the basis of religious affiliation as in Pakistan, Ahmadis having a situation.” Canada said attacks on religious freedom of communities must be “unequivocally called out”.

In Pakistan, a number of Christians and Ahmadis have reportedly been displaced, according to human rights group Amnesty International’s report released last October. Some have chosen to flee while others have sought asylum in other countries because of lack of security, and the looming threat of blasphemy law.

Washington, meanwhile, urged all countries, including Muslim-majority ones, to call for “better treatment of Muslims and others in China”. Uighur Muslims are a minority group, and most of them live in Xinjiang in the country’s northwest region. According to several media reports and human rights groups, thousands of Uighur Muslims have been imprisoned in detention camps.

United States Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback asked Beijing to “end its war on faith” and respect religious freedom. “We remain deeply concerned about the Chinese government’s escalating, widespread, and undue restrictions on religious freedom in China, and we urge the Chinese government to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of everyone,” he added.

The United States also highlighted lack of religious freedom in Pakistan. “In Pakistan, religious minorities continue to suffer from persecution, either at the hands of non-state actors or through discriminatory laws and policies,” Brownback said. He also mentioned the “horrific acts of violence” in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims and Iran’s abuse of religious freedom.

United Kingdom’s Lord Tariq Ahmad said the country had always advocated for the rights of religious minorties. “UK has spoken up for rights of religious communities and minorities across the world,” ANI quoted him as saying. “From Uighurs in China, Christians and Ahmadis in Pakistan.”

United Natons Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world to “stamp out anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, the persecution of Christians and other religious groups”. On the eve of the first-ever International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion and Belief, Guterres said those responsible for such violence should be held accountable.

“Jews have been murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalised; Christians killed at prayer, their churches torched,” the seretary general said.

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