Press Releases & Statements
7/13/17: Open Letter from USCIRF Vice Chair Sandra Jolley to Gulmira Imin on the 8th Anniversary of Her Arrest
Dear Gulmira:I write to you as July 14th comes to an end. On that day eight years ago, as you know all too well, Chinese government officials arrested you. While this open letter may never reach you, I want you to know that as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, I am ardently advocating on your behalf.
Muslims around the world recently marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan. “The Chinese government has taken unprecedented steps to trample on the religious freedom of Uighur Muslims particularly during Ramadan,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a May 30 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on him to “take steps to address severe violations of religious freedom and other human rights” in Sudan. In the letter, USCIRF called on Secretary Tillerson to maintain existing sanctions on the Sudanese government due to deteriorating religious freedom conditions.
6/13/17: USCIRF Elects Daniel Mark as Commission Chairman; Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga as Vice Chairs
At its June 13 meeting, USCIRF commissioners elected Daniel Mark as the Commission’s new chairman. Dr. Mark is an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and battalion professor for Villanova’s Navy ROTC unit. In response to his election, Chairman Mark said, “I am greatly honored by the confidence shown in me by my fellow commissioners. I look forward to enhancing USCIRF’s role and voice in monitoring violations and recommending ways U.S. policy can play an even stronger role.”
H.R. 390 would promote accountability for atrocities committed by ISIS and address the urgent humanitarian needs of persecuted religious and/or ethnic minorities targeted for genocide.
USCIRF was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh, one of the first Commissioners appointed to USCIRF Dr. Kazemzadeh was also a professor emeritus of history at Yale, a distinguished member of the American Baha’i community, and a tireless champion of international religious freedom.
USCIRF's new groundbreaking report, the first of its kind to involve in-person interviews with representatives of almost all religious minority groups in the KRI, notes that "the KRI remains far more welcoming and tolerant to minorities than its regional neighbors" and expresses hope that special effort will be taken to "preserve [the] freedoms and rights" of minorities.
“For more than four years, Maryam Naghash Zargaran has suffered in an Iranian prison, falsely charged with ‘propagating against the Islamic regime and collusion intended to harm national security’,” - Commissioner Clifford D. May.
USCIRF Vice Chairman Daniel Mark stated that he “welcomed this long-overdue step by Burma’s government. Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt, both Muslim, were wrongfully imprisoned for their interfaith activities."
5/19/17: RUSSIA: Release Bagir Kazikhanov
USCIRF Commissioner John Ruskay tells the Russian Government to "stop equating peaceful religious behavior with terrorism or extremism and immediately release Bagir Kazikhanov."