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Press Releases & Statements

WASHINGTON, DC – Months of efforts by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Andy Khawaja to determine the whereabouts of missing and presumed imprisoned U.S. citizen Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007, have finally yielded a breakthrough. Following parallel initiatives by the White House, State Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Iranian government confirmed for the first time it has an open court case against Levinson and considers him a missing person.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commends the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of H.Res. 296 on October 29, 2019 to officially recognize and commemorate the Armenian Genocide. The resolution affirms U.S. recognition of the atrocities committed against Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 as genocide, and commits to promoting education and greater public understanding of the Armenian Genocide and its relevance to modern-day crimes against humanity. USCIRF urges the U.S. Senate to pass the companion resolution, S.Res 150.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns recent Turkish air strikes near civilian areas in Sinjar, Iraq. Turkey claims that these air strikes, the most recent in a series of similar operations that it has conducted in the Sinjar area since 2017, are targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters who have remained in northwestern Iraq since participating in anti-ISIS operations. However, these indiscriminate strikes have taken place in close proximity to towns and camps in which displaced Yazidi families have taken refuge since the 2014 genocide at the hands of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes today’s announcement that the United States Treasury has sanctioned Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani for directing “the regime’s systematic blocking of social and economic progress of the Baha’i community, a religious minority group in Iran. This includes expelling members of the Baha’i faith from universities and denying them employment.” This is the first time the Treasury Department has sanctioned an individual specifically for his role in orchestrating the persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is deeply concerned by the Algerian government’s forcible closure of at least 12 Evangelical Protestant churches. While this troubling campaign began nearly two years ago, in the last seven weeks alone, authorities have closed eight churches and threatened to close at least one more. The most recent closures have included Algeria’s two largest Protestant congregations in Tizi Ouzou and Makhouda, respectively.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today commemorates International Religious Freedom Day, marking the 21st anniversary of the signing of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA).
Washington, DC  – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released new reports on the state of religious freedom in three of the countries it monitors.
WASHINGTON DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is alarmed over reports that a Houthi court in Yemen may deport and confiscate the assets of its Baha’i citizens. A Houthi judge has called for an appraisal of the Baha’i community’s assets ahead of an October 15 court hearing for its leader, Hamid bin Haydara, who was adopted in 2018 by USCIRF Commissioner Andy Khawaja as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoner of Conscience Project.
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today welcomed the recent introduction of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 (H.R.4331 / S.2539) and urges Congress to swiftly pass it. If enacted, the bill would impose sanctions and a visa ban on any Chinese official who interferes in the selection of a successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In addition, the bill would require the Secretary of State to seek to establish a consulate in Lhasa.
WASHINGTON, DC – On October 12, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) marks the one-year anniversary of Pastor Andrew Brunson’s release by Turkish authorities. Pastor Brunson was first detained on false charges on October 7, 2016, and served almost two years in prison before he was transferred to house arrest on July 25, 2018. On October 12, 2018, a Turkish court unjustly convicted Pastor Brunson of providing aid to a terrorist organization and sentenced him to over three years, which the judge counted as time served.

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