Dharamshala — The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report on Monday, May 2nd, concluding frankly that "China's approach to religious freedom and related human rights does not comply with international standards."
On an international scale, the report noted that the year 2015 saw notably greater violations of human rights and obstacles to religious freedom as a whole, contributing to 'worldwide suffering.' "By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission's last Annual Report in 2015," the report said.
Reporting specifically on China, the report highlighted, "While the Chinese government sought to further assert itself on the global stage, at home it pursued policies to diminish the voices of individuals and organizations advocating for human rights and genuine rule of law. During the past year, as in recent years, the central and/or provincial governments continued to forcibly remove crosses and bulldoze churches; implement a discriminatory and at times violent crackdown on Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists and their rights."
While in general China has remained consistent in its denial of religious freedom and human rights, the report noticed a great increase in targeting of human rights lawyers and religious freedom advocates, noting that in July of 2015 alone, over 200 lawyers, defenders, and advocates were arrested, detained, or disappeared.
Specifically regarding Tibetans, the report highlighted several events, including the death of popular political prisoner Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who died in prison after his family's applications for medical probation due to serious health issues were allegedly denied; and the 20th anniversary of the Panchen Lama, who disappeared at the age of five just days after he was recognized as the reincarnation of the high Tibetan leader.
With such serious offences, the USCIRF again recommended that China be designated a "country of particular concern," or CPC, for its "systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses." The State Department has designated China a CPC since 1999.
As China grows as a world power and continues to interact with the United States politically and economically, the report recommends that, "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."