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N. Korea denounces U.S. report accusing the regime of religious persecution

2017/08/26 20:15

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SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Friday rejected a recent United States report that accused its regime of severe religious persecution, denouncing the U.S. move as an attempt to tarnish Pyongyang's image.

The U.S. State Department unveiled the 2016 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom early last week, confirming human rights abuses such as executions, torture and denial of the right to religious freedom inflicted on those engaging in religious practices.

Since 2001 the department has designated North Korea as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act for having "engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

   North Korea "categorically rejected the report, branding it as the thing that does not deserve even a passing note," its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted a spokesman for the country's Religious Believers Council as saying.

The spokesman said the U.S. action "is nothing but a last-ditch effort for tarnishing at any cost the international image and strategic position (of North Korea) ... and further fanning up the climate of sanctions and pressure against the DPRK." The DPRK is the abbreviation of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The Religious Believers Council of Korea will as ever take a strong counteraction against the U.S. arbitrary practices and hostile policy toward the DPRK in a solidarity with the international religious organizations," the spokesman said.