USCIRF Calls for Release of Prisoner of Conscience as White House Takes Harder Line on Religious Freedom Violations in China

Underground church leader Hu Shigen imprisoned as part of Chinese “Sinicization” efforts

WASHINGTON, DC — Commissioner Gary Bauer of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today echoed the Trump Administration’s condemnation of widespread religious freedom abuses in China as he announced his “adoption” of imprisoned Christian church leader Hu Shigen. Hu, a religious freedom advocate who had suffered torture during a previous 16-year prison sentence for human rights advocacy, was detained again in 2015 and sentenced in 2016 to a 7.5-year sentence for “subversion of government power.”
“Tragically, the treatment of Mr. Hu is entirely consistent with what we’re seeing throughout China as Christians, Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners are persecuted for their faiths,” said Bauer, whose personal advocacy for Hu is part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. “The scope and scale of these violations is staggering and it is incumbent upon all of us to hold China accountable for its brutal treatment of individuals and communities of faith.”
In its 2018 Annual Report, USCIRF described China’s increased “sinicization” campaigns to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold with “Chinese characteristics.” In recent testimony before a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, USCIRF’s Chair, Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, citedChina’s forced “re-education” of Uighur Muslims, destruction of religious institutions, and the false imprisonment, often without legal representation, of religious freedom advocates like Hu Shigen.
USCIRF also remains concerned by the many unresolved issues, including the reported forced disappearances of Catholic clergy, that remain following the agreement in late September between Beijing and the Vatican.
To learn more about the plight of Hu Shigen, USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project, and USCIRF’s recommendations for deterring China’s continued religions freedom abuses, Gary Bauer is available to speak on background or for attribution. Please contact Kellie Boyle at or +1-703-898-6554.

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