Welcome to USCIRF

Current RPOCs

USCIRF Advocate:  Johnnie Moore
 

On May 27, 2007, the Eritrean government replaced Patriarch Antonios with Bishop Dioscoros of Mendefera, forcefully removed the Patriarch from his home, and placed him under house arrest at an undisclosed location. Patriarch Antonios, who is 89 years old, continues to be held incommunicado and reportedly is being denied medical care despite suffering from severe diabetes. Read more about him here.

Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabia)
USCIRF Advocate: Nadine Maenza
 
Raif Badawi is a blogger, activist, and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals, which encourages debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia. In 2012, he was charged with "setting up a website that undermines general security," "ridiculing Islamic religious figures," and "going beyond the realm of obedience." He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in addition to a large fine.  He has receievd  50 lashes already. Read more about him here.
 

USCIRF Advocate: Tenzin Dorjee and Nadine Maenza 

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born on April 25, 1989, in Lhari County, Tibet. After the death of the 10th Panchen Lama, His Holiness the Dalai Lama chose Gedhun on May 15, 1995, to be the 11th Panchen Lama, which is the second highest position in Tibetan Buddhism.  Three days after his selection as Panchen Lama, Chinese government authorities kidnapped then six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family.  Read more about him here.

Gulmira Imin (China)
USCIRF Advocate: Tenzin Dorjee
 

Gulmira Imin is a Uighur Muslim and former web administrator for the Uighur-language website Salkin. On July 14, 2009, Ms. Imin was arrested in Aksu after authorities alleged she had organized the protests, posted an announcement for them on Salkin, and leaked state secrets by phone to her husband in Norway.  On April 1, 2010, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Ms. Imin to life in prison under Articles 103, 111, and 296 of China’s Criminal Law on charges of “splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration.” Read more about her here.

 
USCIRF Advocate: Nadine Maenza
 
Youcef Nadarkhani was born April 11, 1977, to Muslim parents in Rasht, Iran. A member of the evangelical Church of Iran and pastor of a 400-member house church, he was first detained in 2006 on charges of "apostasy" and "evangelism." In November 2010, Pastor Nadarkhani was given the verdict of execution by hanging for charges of apostasy. Read more here.

Dennis Christensen (Russia)
USCIRF Advocate: Kristina Arriaga

On May 25, 2017, members of the Federal Security Service (FSB) disrupted a Jehovah’s Witness prayer service. Detaining some 70-80 people within the building for several hours, the authorities would ultimately hold about 20 persons overnight before arresting Dennis Christensen and 15 Russian citizens. Read more about him here.

Ivan Matsitsky (Russia)
USCIRF Advocate: Kristina Arriaga

On June 6, 2017, Russian authorities from the FSB and SWAT police raided the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology Religious Group as well as the home of Ivan Matsitsky. Authorities charged Matsitsky with illegal entrepreneurship from the 2016 investigation (Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Russia), incitement of hatred or enmity (Article 282 of the Criminal Code of Russia), and organizing an extremist conspiracy (Article 282.1 of the Criminal Code of Russia). Read more here.

Hu Shigen (China)
USCIRF Advocate: Gary Bauer

 

On July 10, 2015, authorities disappeared Hu Shigen as part of a larger crackdown on rights lawyers and activists. His family was not made aware of his location or status until January 8, 2016 when they received an arrest notice stating that authorities suspected Hu of “subversion of state power.” Read more here.

 

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee (Iran)
USCIRF Advocate: Gayle Manchin

Ms. Iraee is an author and life-long campaigner for human rights and specifically women’s rights. On September 6, 2014, authorities believed to be Revolutionary Guards arrested both Ms. Iraee and her husband, Arash Sadehi. She was tried in May 2015 and charged with “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading propaganda.” Read more about her here.

 

 

Hamid Kamal Mohammad bin Haydara (Yemen)
USCIRF Advocate: Andy Khawaja

On December 3, 2013, authorities linked to the Houthi-run National Security Bureau arrested Hamad bin Haydara, a Yemeni Baha’i, while he was at work. On December 17, the authorities raided his home, confiscating documents and laptops. They detained him without charges and Haydara virtually disappeared until September 2, 2014, when his wife, Ilham Zara’i, was finally permitted to visit him. Read  more about Hamed bin Haydara here.

 

Robert Levinson (Iran)
USCIRF Advocate: Andy Khawaja

Robert Levinson is a Jewish U.S. citizen. On March 9, 2007, Levinson, a retired FBI agent, disappeared on the Iranian island of Kish. It is likely that the government of Iran disappeared him, though Iran’s government denies knowledge of his whereabouts. In 2013, President Hassan Rouhani indicated a willingness to cooperate with the U.S. government to return Levinson to the United States. Then Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both urged the government of Iran to release Levinson, as has Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. On November 26, 2013, Levinson became the longest-held hostage in U.S. history.

Pastor David Lin (China)
USCIRF Advocates: Kristina Arriaga and Tony Perkins

David Lin is an American pastor and businessman. He became a Christian in 1999 and felt compelled to share his faith with friends and colleagues in China. On December 2, 2009, he was convicted on charges related to contract fraud, which he denies, and sentenced to life imprisonment.