2019 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religions Freedom


“On October 27, 2018, the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), which created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), reached its 20th anniversary. In the two decades since, a greater and more diverse number of actors across the globe are working to protect the fundamental freedom of thought, conscience, and religion as prescribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In fact, the U.S. Department of State’s 2018 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom became a fulcrum for change in these efforts—more foreign governments than ever before are taking action to uphold these rights in their own countries and around the world.

“But the enduring story of the last 20 years is not about IRFA or USCIRF. Rather, it is the story of people who wish to live their lives as their conscience leads, who dream of raising their children so that they can make their own choice about what to believe or not believe freely and openly. Yet for some, the last 20 years have been a chronicle of a different kind, spanning a generation of cruel and unrelenting treatment because of their beliefs.

“One such saga is currently unfolding in China where the government has been particularly pernicious toward religion and religious believers during the last 20 years— and increasingly so in recent years, including in 2018.

“As a Tibetan, you may be forced to study Buddhism in a language that is not Tibetan, your native tongue, or detained for possessing a photo of your spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. As a Christian, your Bible may have been rewritten by the Chinese government, your church shuttered or demolished, and your pastor imprisoned. As a Falun Gong practitioner, you may end up at a detention center where you are attacked with electric batons and forced to undergo medical and psychological experimentation. As a human rights defender who works to protect people targeted for their faith, you may be arrested, or worse, disappeared. And as a Muslim—particularly an ethnic Uighur Muslim—you may be forcibly sent to a concentration camp where you are held against your will and subjected to unspeakable acts of abuse and alleged torture, all while authorities pressure you to abandon your faith. ”

For more information, read Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religions Freedom.