Press Releases & Statements
1/13/20: USCIRF Concerned for Welfare of Iran’s Religious Minorities Amidst Heightened Protest Activity
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is closely monitoring increased protest activity in Iran and expresses concern the government may heighten its persecution of religious minorities and dissidents in response. Since December 2017, Iran’s government has reacted to widespread popular protests in the country by cracking down on Iranians who do not align with the government’s official religious views, accusing them of disloyalty, espionage, and/or endangering national security.
12/24/19: USCIRF Welcomes the State Department’s Designations of the World’s Worst Violators of Religious Freedom
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today praised the State Department’s announcement that it has named nine “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) for particularly severe religious freedom violations and placed seven countries on its “Special Watch List” (SWL) for severe violations, pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
12/22/19: USCIRF Welcomes Sanctions Against Iranian “Hanging Judges” Responsible for Severe Religious Freedom Violations
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomed the U.S. Department of Treasury’s imposition of sanctions yesterday on two of Iran’s “Hanging Judges”, Judge Abolghassem Salavati and Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, under Executive Order 13846. Both judges have been responsible for miscarriages of justice and severe violations of religious freedom in Iran. USCIRF has long recommended the sanctioning of both judges.
WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2019) A bill drafted and shepherded through Congress by Democratic and Republican members reauthorizes the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for an additional three years. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right, which successive U.S. administrations have raised and championed. USCIRF serves a critical role in defending and promoting the universal right to freedom of religion abroad by highlighting severe violations and making policy recommendations to address them to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2019) – Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) today announced the appointment of Rabbi Sharon A. Kleinbaum of New York replacing Andy Khawaja of California to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the introduction of the Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act (H.R. 5408), which calls on the President to take into account Russia’s religious freedom violations in Russia-occupied Crimea and Russia-controlled Donbas when determining “country of particular concern” (CPC) designation under the International Religious Freedom Act. The bill also urges the U.S. government to place visa sanctions on Russian officials responsible for these violations, along with their families.
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expresses disappointment that the United Nations Security Council did not hold a special meeting specifically to address North Korea’s human rights and religious freedom record on International Human Rights Day (December 10) this year. Between 2014-2017, the Security Council had held special meetings on Human Rights Day focused on North Korea. On December 11, the Security Council did hold a meeting focused on North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear program.
WASHINGTON DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns Saudi Arabia’s intensified mistreatment of religious prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi. The Saudi government has moved Badawi to solitary confinement and he has declared a hunger strike in protest. This is Badawi’s second hunger strike since September 2019. Saudi Arabia arrested Badawi in 2012 on charges of “apostasy” and insulting Islam. USCIRF has advocated for Saudi Arabia to release him since 2013 and has recommended that Congress and the administration continue do the same in its 2019 annual report.
WASHINGTON, DC (December 13, 2019) – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns Egypt’s recent arrest of Coptic activist Ramy Kamel. Mr. Kamel is an activist and prominent member of the Maspero Youth Union, advocating for full civil rights for Egypt’s Coptic Christian community and documenting abuses against its members. On November 23, National Security Agency officers stormed his home; confiscated his mobile phone, laptop, and other belongings related to his advocacy work; and took him into custody. One day later, the Supreme State Security Prosecution announced a series of spurious charges against Mr. Kamel, including membership in a terrorist organization, spreading false information, and disturbing the public order.
WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the Department of Treasury’s designation of senior Burmese military officials for sanctions under Executive Order 13818 and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, due to their individual roles in mass atrocities in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states. Designated individuals include Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military; Soe Win, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military; Than Oo, a leader of the 99th Light Infantry Division in Rakhine State; and Aung Aung, a leader of the 33rd Light Infantry Division in Rakhine State.