On Tiananmen Square anniversary, USCIRF calls for sanctions on officials responsible for religious freedom violations


WASHINGTON, DC – On the 30th anniversary of the Chinese government’s violent suppression of peaceful protests in and around Tiananmen Square, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) called on the U.S. government to impose Global Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials and agencies who have perpetrated or tolerated severe religious freedom violations.

“Unfortunately, the events of June 4, 1989 proved to be a harbinger of the Chinese government’s willingness to trample on the rights of millions of its citizens, including religious believers,” said USCIRF Chair Tenzin Dorjee. “Today the Chinese government is detaining millions of mostly Uighur Muslims, imposing intrusive surveillance on houses of worship such as Tibetan monasteries, mosques, and churches, raiding hundreds of Christian house churches, and attempting to eradicate the Falun Gong and other religious groups it has banned.” 

The 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act allows the administration to sanction foreign government officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom through tools such as visa denials and asset freezes. In its 2019 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends using Global Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials including Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang and a member of the Politburo. Chen is also responsible for violations against Buddhists in Tibet, where he created a surveillance system similar to that used in Xinjiang today.

“These flagrant violations of the fundamental rights and dignity of millions of people cannot go unanswered,” continued Dorjee. “The Trump administration should avail itself of the tools at its disposal by imposing targeted sanctions on those Chinese officials and agencies responsible for these abuses.”