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Press Releases & Statements

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was deeply saddened to learn of the death on Sunday of Ms. Asma Jahangir, a leading human rights defender in Pakistan and a former United Nations expert on freedom of religion or belief. “Ms. Jahangir was an outspoken critic of the Pakistani government’s misuse of blasphemy laws, particularly targeting Ahmadis and Christians,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “She did this despite great risk to her own personal safety. She will always be remembered as a fearless advocate for human rights both in Pakistan and around the globe.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the death sentence handed down to Hamed bin Haydara by a Houthi court in Yemen. Mr. bin Haydara was targeted soley beause of his religious beliefs. USCIRF calls for his sentence to be lifted and for Mr. bin Haydara to be released and all charges dropped. 
“The Senate’s confirmation of a new ambassador today could not have come soon enough,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “We are witnessing immense challenges to religious freedom around the globe. We need to utilize every resource available to confront these challenges, including the office of the ambassador-at-large. USCIRF looks forward to working with Ambassador Brownback in advancing the U.S. government’s promotion of international religious freedom.”
USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark described Monson as “the embodiment of a lifelong commitment to the church’s mission. He strongly believed in religious freedom and actively traveled the world....His passing is a great loss for the LDS Church and all people of good will.”
USCIRF welcomed the State Department’s naming of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) for severe religious freedom violations.  This group comprises nations that violate religious freedom in a “systematic, ongoing, egregious” manner and includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
“Global Magnitsky sanctions against individuals who have committed gross human rights abuses are an important new tool in the U.S. government’s human rights toolbox,” said USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark.  “USCIRF congratulates the White House, the State Department, and the Treasury Department for working together to implement this first set of sanctions.  Other countries are passing similar acts, and the United States should continue to be a leader in the fight against human rights abusers.”
USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark said that “failing to designate CPCs tells the violators of religious freedom around the world that the United States is looking away.  The State Department should make such designations without delay.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the release of Iranian religious prisoner of conscience Fariba Kamalabadi. Vice Chairwoman Arriaga praises Ms. Kamalabadi’s “courage, grounded in the faith that the Iranian government has tried so hard to repress.”
Daniel Mark, USCIRF's Chairman stated that “Pakistan must repeal its blasphemy laws and immediately release all those imprisoned under those provisions.  Blasphemy laws and the horrific acts they unleash are an assault on human rights and dignity.”
Kristina Arriaga, the Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), testified before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Speaking on the “government’s role in protecting international religious freedom,” Arriaga advised the Members that “we ignore religious freedom violations at our peril and must address challenges proactively.”