Press Releases & Statements
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released A Right for All: Freedom of Religion or Belief in ASEAN, a report documenting the state of this freedom in the 10 Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The study examines ASEAN’s and the Member States’ approaches to this fundamental right, praising the fact that “ASEAN has achieved some level of cooperation across such diversity” and noting where improvement is needed.
“Mahvash Sabet has been unjustly imprisoned under terrible conditions simply for daring to practice her religion and educate her fellow Baha’is. Mahvash’s courage in the face of persecution and her dedication to her faith are truly inspiring,” said USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga
USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark said, “Michael Cromartie embodied the effort to integrate religious values with public policy – at both the domestic and international level. We owe him a debt of gratitude for championing an open and honest discourse about the role of religion and belief in a public policy and political context.”
9/11/17: USCIRF Strongly Condemns Violence in Burma’s Rakhine State and Calls for Efforts to Protect Rohingya Muslims
USCIRF strongly condemns attacks on civilians and security forces in Burma’s Rakhine State. Hundreds have been killed and approximately 300,000 Rohingya Muslims recently have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. This number is expected to grow in the days and weeks ahead. Burma’s security forces have razed entire villages, slaughtered families, and even placed landmines in the path of fleeing refugees, creating “a staggering humanitarian disaster,” according to USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark.
Covering 2016, this publication documents religious freedom conditions in almost 200 countries, including some of the most repressive governments in the world. USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark noted: "The State Department’s report is an important resource on religious freedom conditions globally."
USCIRF released a report that shows how blasphemy laws around the world fall short of international human rights benchmarks. The report details laws spanning the globe from countries such as Canada and Switzerland to Iran and Indonesia with penalties ranging from fines to death. USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark states that blasphemy laws “invite abuse and can lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks."
USCIRF welcomed the release of Iranian religious prisoner of conscience Maryam Naghash Zargaran. A Christian convert from Islam, Ms. Zargaran was sentenced in 2013 to four years’ imprisonment on charges of “propagating against the Islamic regime and collusion intended to harm national security.” Commissioner Clifford D. May: Maryam's case exemplified Iran's "flagrant disregard for religious freedom."
USCIRF strongly condemns the irresponsible and hostile actions taken against Uighur Muslims in Egypt. The government of Egypt continues a campaign of rounding up and deporting these individuals back to China, a country with a record of harsh repression of the Uighur community. USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark said, “These latest moves show a calculated indifference to the Uighur Muslim community.”
USCIRF expressed relief that the Vietnamese government has released religious prisoner of conscience Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and allowed him, his wife Tran Thi Hong, and their five children to leave the country. Pastor Chinh was sentenced in 2012 to
USCIRF welcomes the White House nomination of Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. As a Senator from 1996-2011, he was at the forefront of international religious freedom issues.