• USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett. Message from the chair.

  • USCIRF Policy Analyst Tina Mufford and Burmese civil society and human rights advocate Zin Mar Aung briefed Congressional staffs and NGOs on "Burma: The Ongoing Abuses against Religious and Ethnic Minorities," December 3, 2014.

  • USCIRF Commissioner Hannah Rosenthal speaks at the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Event of the 2004 OSCE Berlin Meeting on anti-Semitism attended by Ambassador Power and U.S. NGOs, November 14, 2014, Berlin.

  • USCIRF Commissioner Thomas J. Reese and staff meet with Central African Republic interfaith leaders, November 12, 2014. 

  • USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett, Commissioner Mary Ann Glendon, and Executive Director Jackie Wolcott with parliamentarians at the launch of the International Parliamentary Coalition to Advance Religious Freedom, November 8, 2014, Oslo. 

  • Dwight Bashir, USCIRF Deputy Director for Policy and Research, speaks at a Stimson Center event on the escalating Shi'a-Sunni conflict, October 28, 2014. 

  • USCIRF Executive Director Jackie Wolcott and policy director Knox Thames meet with Mujeeb-ur-Rahman to discuss religious freedom concerns in Pakistan, October 14, 2014.

  • USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett with Peter Van Dalen, co-chair of the European Parliament's Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, September 30, 2014. 

  • USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett testifies before a House Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on "Protecting International Religious Freedom," September 18, 2014. 

  • USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett answers audience questions at the Senate Human Rights Caucus event "A Region at Risk: ISIS's Barbaric Tactics in Iraq & Syria," September 15, 2014.

Defending Freedoms Project

In December 2012, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Amnesty International USA, launched the Defending Freedoms Project with the aim of supporting human rights and religious freedom throughout the world with a particular focus on prisoners of conscience.

Specifically, Members of Congress “adopt” prisoners of conscience, standing in solidarity with these brave men and women, while committing to advocate publicly for their release.

Click here to find more information on the Defending Freedoms Project.

Top Row: Agnes Uwimana Nkusi – Rwanda , Saeed Abedini – Iran, Father Nguyen Van Ly – Vietnam

Middle Row: Gao Zhisheng – China, Nabeel Rajab – Bahrain

Bottom Row: Mahvash Sabet – Iran, Asia Bibi – Pakistan, Dawit Issac – Eritrea.

USCIRF's 2014 Annual Report

 

 

USCIRF Issues its 2014 Annual Report

15th Anniversary Retrospective:  Renewing the Commitment

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal advisory body the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) created to monitor religious freedom abuses abroad, today released its 2014 Annual Report, and recommended that the State Department add eight more nations to its list of “countries of particular concern,” defined under law as countries where particularly severe violations of religious freedom are tolerated or perpetrated: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam

USCIRF also recommended that the following eight countries be re-designated as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan

International Coalition Formed

The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief was formally launched in Oslo, Norway on November 8, 2014.  This network of parliamentarians from around the world is committed to advocating for religious freedom.  Participants signed the Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief and have committed to its principles.

Spotlight

The Chinese government continues to perpetrate particularly severe violations of religious freedom.  In May 2014, USCIRF released its 2014 Annual Report and again recommended that China be designated as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, in 2014. The State Department has designated China as a CPC since 1999.  From the report:

“A China committed to protecting and advancing its citizens’ fundamental rights and religious freedoms is in the interests of the United States.”

In September 2014, USCIRF released a press release entitled China: USCIRF Condemns Harsh Sentence for Ilham Tohti.  From the press release:

“The Chinese government’s targeting of Uighur Muslim’s peaceful private gatherings predictably has led to instability and insecurity, and fueled resentment and the very extremism it seeks to quell.”

In July 2014, USCIRF released a press release entitled China Criticized for Banning Ramadan Fast.  From the press release:

“By continuing its annual ban on fasting during Ramadan, the Chinese government signals its ongoing disrespect for internationally recognized human rights, including the right of freedom of religion or belief…students and teachers, professors, and other government employees are prohibited from fasting and, in some cases, from performing their daily prayers, during Ramadan.”

Since 2011, more than 100 human rights defenders from China, many of whom often work on religious freedom cases, were forcibly disappeared, tortured, detained, stripped of legal licenses, or sentenced to prison terms.   Through the Defending Freedoms Project, an initiative created by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with USCIRF and Amnesty International USA, there are currently 13 Chinese prisoners of conscience highlighted in the project.

 

 

 

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The Religious Violence Project

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has launched the Religious Violence Project to highlight violations of religious freedom abroad. Learn more here

August 2014 Factsheet: Violence Towards Religious Communities in Pakistan

USCIRF Staff Perspectives

Turkey: Reopen Halki

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 20, 2014 | USCIRF

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today urged the Turkish government to reopen the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary, the only Greek Orthodox educational institution in Turkey, which was closed 43 years ago this month.  Halki remains closed despite Turkish government officials’ promises and public statements of support for its reopening.

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About the Commission

Who We Are

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

What We're About

Inherent in religious freedom is the right to think as we please, believe or not believe as our conscience leads, and live out our beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear.

We are about freedom

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