The USCIRF: A biased and prejudiced organization against Vietnam


What is the USCIRF?
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives. USCIRF's principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress.
USCIRF researches and monitors international religious freedom issues. The Commission is authorized to travel on fact-finding missions to other countries and hold public hearings.
The Commission on International Religious Freedom issues an annual report every May 1. The report responds to a report issued by the State Department Office of International Religious Freedom the prior fall that names countries that have severely violated religious freedom and is intended to critique and expand on the State Department report.
Unfortunately, USCIRF has often held a biased and prejudiced view on Vietnam, especially in human rights issues, and always made wrong and false report about Vietnam’s human rights situations. But it’s not the first time this organization has been accused of that.
USCIRF has placed India on CPC and watch list in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010. Their report has drawn criticism from the Indian pressThe Pioneer, in an editorial termed it as “fiction", "biased”, and “Surpassing Goebbels”. It criticized USCIRF for projecting the massacre of 58 Hindu passengers as an accident. It also accused USCIRF of indirectly justifying murder of Swami Lakshamananda Saraswati, a Hindu cleric and social activist. An analysis of USCIRF 2014 report criticizes USCIRF for promoting religious discord between Hindus and Buddhist, white-wash terror acts, and falsely blaming a Monk for Bodh Gaya bombings 
Christian leaders in Odisha defended India: Archbishop Raphael Cheenath stated that India remained of a secular character, the president of the Odisha Minority Forum that, despite a small hate campaign against minorities, the majority of society had been "cordial and supportive", and the Orissa Secular Front that, despite the 2002 and 2008 riots, India had a strong secular foundation.
Prior to the 2001 visit of the USCIRF to Egypt, some Coptic leaders in Egypt protested, viewing the visit as a form of American imperialism. For example, Mounir Azmi, a member of the Coptic Community Council, said that despite problems for Copts, the visit was a "vile campaign against Egypt" and would be unhelpful. Another critic called the visit "foreign intervention in our internal affairs". In the event, the USCIRF was able to meet the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III and Mohammed Sayed Tantawi of Al-Azhar University, but others refused to meet the delegation. Hisham Kassem, chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, felt that insisting on the rights of Christians in Egypt might antagonize Muslims and thus be counterproductive.
First-ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Robert Seiple, criticized the USCIRF’s emphasis on the punishment of religious persecution over the promotion of religious freedom. In his view, the USCIRF was "only cursing the darkness". As an example, he highlights the Commission’s decision to designate Laos a Country of Particular Concern in 2002 despite release of religious prisoners. Of the USCIRF he further stated “...that which was conceived in error and delivered in chaos has now been consigned to irrelevancy. Unless the Commission finds some candles soon, Congress ought to turn out the lights."
The Commission has also been accused of being biased towards focusing on the persecution of Christians, and of being anti-Muslim. A former policy analyst, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that she was fired because she was a Muslim and a member of an advocacy group, the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Current commissioners and some other religious-freedom advocates deny the claims of bias. The commission has also been accused of in-fighting and ineffectiveness.[28]
Jemera Rone of Human Rights Watch said about the report: "I think the legislative history of this Act will probably reflect that there was a great deal of interest in protecting the rights of Christians …. So I think that the burden is probably on the US government to show that in this Act they’re not engaging in crusading or proselytization on behalf of the Christian religion."
According to the National Council of Churches, "the policy will promote the cause of Christians to the exclusion of persecuted believers of other religions."
In a 2009 study of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the Institute of Global Engagement stated that the United States' international religious freedom policy was problematic in that it "has focused more on rhetorical denunciations of persecutors and releasing religious prisoners than on facilitating the political and cultural institutions necessary to religious freedom", and had therefore been ineffective. It further stated that U.S. IRF policy was often perceived as an attack on religion, cultural imperialism, or a front for American missionaries. The report recommended that there be more attention to religious freedom in U.S. diplomacy and foreign policy in general, and that the USCIRF devote more attention to monitoring the integration of religious freedom issues into foreign policy.
In 2005, then Commissioner, Richard Land authored Imagine! A God Blessed America: What It Would Look Like and How It Could Happen. In the book, He wrote that Hindu culture/tradition is "Superstitious" and "Cruel".
Some past commissioners, staff and former staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom say the agency charged with advising the president and Congress is rife, behind-the-scenes, with ideology and tribalism, with commissioners focusing on pet projects that are often based on their own religious background. In particular, they say an anti-Muslim bias runs through the commission's work.
From the start, critics say, the commission has disproportionately focused its efforts on the persecution of Christians, while too often ignoring other religious communities and downplaying their claims of persecution.
"It was predetermined who the bad guys are and who the good guys are," said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a Muslim who served as a commissioner from 2003 to 2007 and teaches human rights at UCLA. "There is a very pronounced view of the world, and it is that victims of religious discrimination are invariably Christian. It was rather suffocating."
Biased and prejudiced reports on Vietnam
Everything looks like the same with Vietnam. In its 2016 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom released on 2nd May, USCIRF recommends 17 countries for CPC designation in 2016. Ten are currently on the US State Department’s list: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. USCIRF recommends maintaining these ten, and adding seven other countries in which religious freedom is seriously abused: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria and of course Vietnam.
The US State Department designated Vietnam as a CPC in 2004 and 2005, but removed it in 2006 prior to Vietnam’s admission to the World Trade Organization. In August 2015, a delegation of USCIRF Commissioners visited Vietnam to assess the situation of freedom of religion or belief.
 According to the USCIRF’s findings, whereas significant progress has been achieved for some groups in certain areas, “on the other hand, the government’s continuing heavy-handed management of religion continues to lead not only to restrictions and discrimination, but also to individuals being outright harassed, detained, and targeted with physical violence”. The USCIRF noted that, in particular, “religious organizations that choose not to seek government recognition face greater risk of abuse by government authorities”.
Here, we can see unreasonable allegations, it’s common that no country would accept any religious organizations to operate without registration, and any country would punish religious dignitaries and followers who violated or abused laws to hurt the country’s national interests and security.
During the past decade, Vietnam has made a lot of achievements on human rights and religious freedom. The Vietnamese government has started to provide trainings on religion and rule of law, religious freedom, and human rights for academic scholars, government officials working on religious affairs, and public security officials. The government has also partnered with international NGOs and foreign governments to convene seminars on the positive role of religion in society. And now, the Party and State have been gathering opinions from all walks of life to build the law on religions and beliefs, next will be a law on associations in this year. The Vietnamese government fully respects and protects its citizens’ freedom of religion in line with the law, and Vietnamese citizens enjoy the rights to full religious freedom in accordance with the law.
          Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, USCIRF is biased and not objective. The U.S. ignores this fact and releases reports repeatedly to distort and attack Vietnam’s religious policies and status. Once a again, through the USCIRF the U.S. government has been interfering in Vietnam’s internal affairs. The United States should look to its own problems rather than pointing the finger at others./.
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All comments [ 11 ]

Gentle Moon 2/10/16 13:46

Since its inception, the commission's been beset by controversy. People who watch the commission closely say it was created to satisfy special interests, which has led to bias in the commission's work.

LawrenceSamuels 2/10/16 13:47

Past commissioners and staff reported "an anti-Muslim bias runs through the Commission's work.

Deck Hero14 2/10/16 13:49

Given the commission's history of letting the commissioners' personal biases drive its agenda,I think this organization is just a mess.

Jane smartnic 2/10/16 16:16

Don't believe in any allegations of this agency1

Pack Cassiopian 2/10/16 16:17

Some Washington figures prominently connected with promoting religious freedom overseas are accused in a federal lawsuit of discriminating against Muslims.

MaskOf Zero 2/10/16 16:19

The information contained in the report is an attempt to tarnish the atmosphere of tolerance and multiculturalism existing in Vietnam, form a negative opinion about the country.

John Smith 2/10/16 16:21

Recent years, Vietnam has showed many encouraging achievements of human rights implementations.

Love Peace 2/10/16 16:23

The USCIRF ignores these fact and releases reports repeatedly to distort and attack Vietnam’s religious policies and status.

yobro yobro 2/10/16 16:25

For an example, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad claims the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom rescinded a job offer because she is Muslim. As Sarah Wildman reports, this isn’t the first time the commission has come under fire.

Only Solidar 2/10/16 16:27

I don't know this organization claim what authority to issue reports like that, they are just an American agency not Vietnam's or UN's one.

Pack Cassiopian 2/10/16 16:28

Unfortunately, USCIRF has often held a biased and prejudiced view on Vietnam, especially in human rights issues, and always made wrong and false report about Vietnam’s human rights situations.

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