The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Photo: USCIRF

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Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today reiterated its call for the State Department to fill the vacancy for the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.

In a media release on May 12, the USCIRF said, 2020 The appointment of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues is mandated by the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, however, this position has been vacant since January 20, 2017. Previous Special Coordinators have been crucial to raising the profile of religious freedom issues in Tibet and mobilizing government resources to address the issue.

“The Chinese Communist Party is attempting to erase the unique identity of Tibetan Buddhism,” noted USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “We need to utilize all of the policy tools available, including the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, to confront this grave threat to religious freedom.”

“Chinese authorities have sinicized Tibetan Buddhism by interfering in the reincarnation successions of His Holinesses Panchen Lama and Dalai Lama, introducing ‘Ethic Unity Laws’ to micromanage Tibetan monasteries, and using high tech surveillance to suppress Tibetan religious freedom and human rights,” USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee added. “Henceforth, it’s high time to appoint the Special Coordinator for Tibet issues.”

In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF called upon the administration to use its authority under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the International Religious Freedom Act to impose targeted sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for severe religious freedom violations, especially Chen Quanguo, the current Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang and former Secretary of Tibet. In February 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet explaining how the Chinese government’s new Regulation for Religious Groups could further restrict religious freedom.

USCIRF has also called for the release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, and one of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience.

The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief.