Date: May 27, 2021
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the Chinese government for imposing sanctions on former USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore. The sanctions were reportedly imposed in retaliation for the U.S. Department of State’s 2020 International Religious Freedom Report and subsequent sanction against a Chinese official for aannual report last month.
“The Chinese government’s most recent sanction targeting USCIRF’s work defending the religious freedom of the Chinese people is counterproductive, at best,” stated USCIRF Chair Anurima Bhargava. “It will only draw more international attention to the atrocities and horrors being perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and countless other Chinese citizens.”
USCIRF has consistently criticized the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and called on the U.S. government and the international community to hold it accountable for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, including genocidal policies against Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. In March, USCIRF applauded the coordinated sanctions that the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union imposed against Chinese officials under the Global Magnitsky Act.
USCIRF has also paid particular attention to the plight of religious prisoners in China. In December 2020, former Commissioner Moore adopted Hong Kong religious freedom advocate and democracy activist Jimmy Lai through the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project.
“Johnnie Moore joins a growing list of government officials and human rights activists—including myself and former USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin—who the brutal Chinese Communist regime has sanctioned for criticizing its oppressive policies and religious freedom violations. This sanction is a badge of honor,” USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins added. “We will continue to work unflinchingly with our international partners to hold the CCP accountable for its atrocious religious freedom violations.”
In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended China for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.