WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today publicly released its 2016 Annual Report. This year’s report documents religious freedom violations in more than 30 countries, one of them is China.
USCIRF also recommends that the State Department re-designates as country of particular concern (CPC) nine countries including China and take additional actions to promote religious freedom.
Severe Religious Freedom Violations
In 2015, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners reportedly were arrested or sent to brainwashing centers or other detention facilities. Brainwashing centers are a form of extralegal detention known to involve acts of torture.
Based on statements from Chinese health officials, the long-standing practice of harvesting organs from prisoners was to end on January 1, 2015. However, many human rights advocates believe the practice continues. Imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners are particularly targeted for organ harvesting.
Li Chang, a former government official sentenced to prison for his involvement in a peaceful Falun Gong demonstration, is among the countless Falun Gong practitioners who remain imprisoned at the end of the reporting period. The Chinese government continued to deny Wang Zhiwen a passport or the ability to travel freely to receive proper medical care following the torture he endured during his 15 years in prison.
Chinese authorities denied a visa and barred entry into mainland China to Anastasia Lin, a human rights advocate and Falun Gong practitioner. As Miss World Canada 2015, Ms. Lin was scheduled to participate in the Miss World event held in China in December 2015.
Protestants and Catholics
China’s approach to religious freedom and related human rights does not comply with international standards. To reinforce to China that such leadership must go hand-in-hand with the respect for and protection of religious freedom and related human rights, the U.S. government consistently should integrate human rights messaging – and specifically religious freedom – throughout its interactions with China.
Additionally the US government should encourage the Broadcasting Board of Governors to use appropriated funds to advance Internet freedom and protect Chinese activists by supporting the development and accessibility of new technologies and programs to counter censorship.