Religious Cemeteries as Targets of Destruction

Oct 15, 2021

Cemeteries are sacred sites that are of great spiritual, cultural, and historical significance to many religious and ethnic groups. These holy sites are governed by religious laws and customs that dictate the location of, the appearance of, and the activities and behaviors allowed on the burial grounds. Despite laws aimed to protect these sites, cemeteries around the world catering to a variety of religious groups are targets for defilement, which includes vandalism such as spray paint, theft, or smashed headstones. In other cases, whole graveyards are exhumed or razed in preplanned operations.

Last month USCIRF published a new factsheet on this topic that outlines international human rights law that defines the obligations of countries to protect these sites.

USCIRF Vice Chair Nury Turkel joins us on today’s episode to discuss the targeted destruction by non-state actors and state-sponsored entities of religious communities’ cemeteries in several countries around the world, including his native China.

Click here to read USCIRF’s Factsheet on the Destruction of Cemeteries