15 years ago, Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act, asserting international religious freedom as a top priority of the United States, as well as a fundamental human right. The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, created by the act, released a summary of the state of international religious freedoms. In the report, China was cited under the "Government Restrictions and Abuses" section, meaning laws and policies impede on the religious freedoms. The report states:
"In China, religious affairs officials and security organs scrutinized and restricted the religious activities of registered and unregistered religious and spiritual groups. The government harassed, detained, arrested, or sentenced to prison a number of religious adherents for activities reportedly related to their religious beliefs and practice. These activities included assembling for religious worship, expressing religious beliefs in public and in private, and publishing religious texts. The government continued to strictly regulate the religious activities of Uighur Muslims. Authorities sentenced one Uighur Muslim to ten years in jail for selling “illegal religious material;” harassed or detained Catholic clergy not affiliated with the government “Catholic Patriotic Association,” including auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daquin; and indicted seven house church Christians accused of being members of a banned group, “the Shouters,” a charge they denied. In response to a prolonged period of progressively more repressive government actions and religious policies in Tibetan areas, including intense official crackdowns at monasteries and nunneries resulting in the loss of life, arbitrary detentions, and torture, Tibetan monks, nuns, and laypersons increasingly sought to express despair and dissent by self-immolating, often at or near a monastery, usually resulting in death. There were reportedly 83 self-immolations in 2012."
China was also listed as one of eight "countries of particular concern" meaning particularly severe restrictions of religious freedoms exist. Being listed as a CPC means that under the act, the US government should actively work to prevent the restrictions of religious freedoms. The other seven countries listed as CPCs were; Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. The report stated:
"China: The Secretary of State designated China as a CPC in 1999, and renewed the designation most recently in August 2011. The Secretary of State extended existing economic measures in effect against the country under the Act related to restrictions on exports of crime control and detection instruments and equipment (Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991, P.L. 101-246). The government emphasized state control over religion and restricted the activities and personal freedom of religious adherents when these were perceived, even potentially, to threaten state or Chinese Communist Party interests, including the Party’s concept of social stability. The government’s respect for religious freedom declined during the year, particularly in Tibetan areas and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The government harassed, detained, arrested, or sentenced to prison a number of religious adherents for activities reportedly related to their religious beliefs and practice. The government continued to strictly regulate the religious activities of Uighur Muslims. Government repression, including crackdowns at monasteries and nunneries, resulted in the loss of life, arbitrary detentions, and torture."
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