Press Releases & Statements
4/25/18: USCIRF Releases 2018 Annual Report, Recommends 16 Countries be Designated “Countries of Particular Concern”
Today the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2018 Annual Report, documenting religious freedom violations and progress in 28 countries during calendar year 2017 and making recommendations to the U.S. government. “Sadly, religious freedom conditions deteriorated in many countries in 2017, often due to increasing authoritarianism or under the guise of countering terrorism,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “Yet there is also reason for optimism 20 years after the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act. The importance of this foundational right is appreciated more now than ever, and egregious violations are less likely to go unnoticed.”
4/24/18: Open Letter from USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee to the Panchen Lama on His 29th Birthday (April 25, 2018)
Open Letter from USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee to the Panchen Lama on His 29th Birthday (April 25, 2018) Washington, D.C. – Your Holiness Gedhun Choekyi Nyima: Tashi Delek. With mixed feelings, I write you again, this year to wish you a happy and healthy 29th birthday. Unfortunately, you may never read this, but please know that all Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Tibetans, and friends around the world are thinking of you on this special day.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was disappointed today by a Turkish court decision to continue proceedings in the case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American citizen and leader of a small Protestant Christian church who is facing up to 35 years imprisonment on false terrorism and espionage related charges. USCIRF has condemned the charges against Pastor Brunson and called for his immediate release.
3/24/18: USCIRF Study Reveals Numerous Passages in Saudi Textbooks Inciting Violence and Intolerance
In a new study of select textbooks currently in use in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) uncovered content promoting violence and hatred toward religious minorities and others. While the Saudi government has been engaged in textbook reform for the last 15 years, the presence of these passages makes clear how little progress has been made and highlights an immediate need for the Saudi government to more seriously address this issue, as well as the exportation of these textbooks internationally, as a part of its ambitious reform process.
3/13/18: USCIRF Strongly Condemns New Indictment Against Pastor Andrew Brunson, Including Possible Life Sentence
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns a new indictment issued by Turkish prosecutors this week charging Pastor Andrew Brunson with “leadership in a terrorist organization” and seeking a possible life sentence in his case. Pastor Brunson is an American citizen and the leader of a small Protestant Christian church in the city of Izmir, Turkey, where he has served for over 22 years. He was detained on October 7, 2016 and accused by Turkish officials of membership in an armed terrorist organization, though official charges have not yet been released to the public.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) mourns the sudden passing of Chinese human rights lawyer Dr. Li Baiguang, a devoted advocate for religious freedom who represented falsely accused Chinese pastors and others targeted for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is concerned by recent reports that roughly 100 members of Iranian religious minorities, who sought resettlement to the United States, have been denied asylum and could be returned to Iran where they may face discrimination and persecution.The refugees, most of whom are reported to be Assyrian or Armenian Christians, were seeking refuge in the United States under the Lautenberg Amendment. The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted in 1990, was expanded in 2004 to allow members of Iranian religious minorities, including Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and others, to apply for refugee status under a special category in recognition of their status as persecuted minorities.
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.
1/24/18: USCIRF Welcomes Confirmation of New Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
“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.”