(TibetanReview.net, Apr28, 2017) – Noting continued decline in conditions for freedom of religion or belief and related human rights in China in 2016, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has on Apr 26 highlighted major instances of violations in Tibet. Releasing its annual report for the year, the highlights include the eviction of “thousands of monks and nuns from the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Tibet before demolishing their homes”. It also noted the lack of accountability on China’s part regarding the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure, who has remained disappeared since May 1995 after being taken away by the Chinese government.
The Commission has recommended that the US State Department continue to designate China as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the country’s International Religious Freedom Act.
The State Department has designated China as a CPC since 1999. The Act defines “Countries of Particular Concern” as those in which particularly severe violations of religious freedom are tolerated or perpetrated.
The commission has also recommended that the US government “(c)oordinate with other diplomatic missions and foreign delegations, including the United Nations (UN) and European Union, about human rights advocacy in meetings with Chinese officials and during visits to China, and encourage such visits to areas deeply impacted by the government’s religious freedom abuses, such as Xinjiang, Tibet, and Zhejiang Province.”
Releasing the report, the commission’s Chairman Thomas Reese has said, “Religious freedom should not suffer under the guise of seeking to ensure national security.”
The commission is an independent, bipartisan US federal government body created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. It monitors the implementation of or respect for universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed a Tibetan American, Dr Tenzin Dorjee, as a Commissioner in 2016.