2019 USCIRF Report Issued, China Tops List of Worst Offenders

The report specially mentioned Uighur Muslims and their detention

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has stated in its annual report that a vast majority of the worst violators of religious freedom are to be found in Africa, Middle East, and Asia. The USCIRF specially focused on the oppression of human rights and also religion in China- a country where its government routinely represses people of different faiths like Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners, and Christians. The commission specially noted the harsher treatment meted out to human rights defenders and Uighur Muslims.

China sits prominently in the USCIRF list. The latter has taken firmly against Beijing considering the way how authorities in China detained about two million Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim minority, with ethnicity different than the majority Han Chinese population. Concerns regarding Uighurs are not new, having found their way to the first USCIRF report. Eight hundred thousand to two million Uighurs have been detained. The report asks Washington to sanction the specific Chinese government staff who has provided sanction for the detention of Uighurs.

The USCIRF does a similar task as the U.S. State Department with the difference that it concentrates only on 30 countries. The 2019 report comprising of 234 pages mentions countries which have notable religious freedom violations. This is in contrast with the yearly report of international religious freedom brought out by the State Department. The commission has recommended that the State Department should redesignate a few countries to be “of particular concern.” The list of countries in this list is China, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Burma, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Tajikistan. The commission also recommends that six countries added to the list. These six countries are Central African Republic, Russia, Vietnam, Nigeria, Syria, and Uzbekistan.

The USCIRF also made a Tier 2 list which comprise the names of countries whose governments participate in or condone serious religious freedom violations. There are 12 countries in this list, consisting of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Cuba, India, Iraq, and Laos. Other than formal countries, the commission has also requested the U.S. State Department to list a total of five nonstate actors as the “entities of particular concern.” These five are Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Syria, Yemen-headquartered Houthis, and al-Shabab operating in Somalia.

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