FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2019
USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins to Advocate for Release of Imprisoned Uighur Muslim Dilshat Perhat Ataman
WASHINGTON, DC – Tony Perkins, chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), announced today his adoption of Dilshat Perhat Ataman through USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. Mr. Ataman ran a popular Uighur-language website when he was arrested, at the age of 27, by Chinese authorities in July 2009 as part of the wave of arrests and disappearances made in response to riots in Xinjiang. Although he was released from prison in 2014 after serving a five-year sentence, he was detained again in June 2018. He has not been formally charged with any crimes related to his detention.
“Dilshat Perhat Ataman is one of potentially millions of Uighur and other Muslims unjustly held in Chinese internment camps,” Perkins said. “This ongoing assault on religious freedom and basic human rights by the Chinese government must end.”
USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee adopted and advocates on behalf of Gulmira Imin, also a Uighur Muslim. Ms. Imin, a website administrator and activist, was critical of Chinese government policies. She was arrested 10 years ago this month, and in 2010 she was sentenced to life imprisonment. “Through our Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project, USCIRF continues to sound the alarm about the abusive treatment of Uighur and other Muslims perpetrated by the Chinese government,” Dorjee said.
In its 2019 Annual Report, in addition to other recommendations, USCIRF called on the U.S. government to impose Global Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials and agencies who have perpetrated or tolerated severe religious freedom violations, particularly Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-703-898-6554.