tv Discussion on U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom CSPAN July 27, 2022 1:30am-2:33am EDT
dwight: good afternoon and welcome everyone to the u.s. >> good afternoon welcome to the us commission briefing impact on international religious freedom i am the director of outreach of policy at the commission i know many of you are looking forward to this week to the summit which officially got underway this morning we have with u us the cochair of the advocacy i want to invite him to say a few
words. [applause] >> good afternoon everyone and welcome it is an amazing event on behalf of the international religious freedom summit on the steering committee we welcome all of you to the week of the senate and one of the reasons we agreed to do this event was the amazing synergy between the amazing body user andd civil society and here in congress on capitol hill we have multistate coalitions over 70 dozens of faith communities speaking for each other on the hill today with over 120 meetings in 24 hours in each of these calling for the support for the reauthorization of the valuable body. but what there are courses on
capitol hill and for religious freedom to represent communities with great voices that we need a symphony and need to come together to conduct our work together shoulder to shoulder and solidarity so i am delighted all of the folks have organize this event and i hope you enjoy it and you have our support on behalf of the senate. [applause] >> thank you for those words actually this is our first public event in person since the beginning of the pandemic we are happy to be here on capitol hill. and those new commissioners just appointed into recent weeks i went to turn it over to the newly elected chair whose just beginning his second term.
>> thank you very much it's great to be with you today i'm honored to serve as the new chair. is this better? i was elected the chair of the commission and also as the vice chair of the leadership team.to unfortunately he is not able to join us today. and the commissioner was president biden also several newly appointed commissioners a giant in the religious freedom fight recently appointed by house minority leader kevin mccarthy was also sharing opening remarks with uso today.
the commissioner to my right appointed by senator mitch mcconnell and also several members with us for the committee meeting today thank you to those of you who are in town and a special thank you to the representative for her staff are reserving the room. as the summit kicks off with religious freedom advocates coming in town we want to take some time how we make policy recommendations to the us government and how we can be a source to you and your work and in 1998 the united states congress passed the religious freedom act to make the promotion of freedom of religion a higher priority of us foreign policy in addition
to the united office at the state department and then to oversee that office also urging the appointment of an advisor of the national security council staff at the white house and as an independent bipartisan government advisory body to monitor abroad in the standards for this condition on the ground to make the recommendation to the president and the secretary offn statere in congress there are nine commissioners appointed by the president and congressional leadership of botht political parties the commissions of private senate senators coming from different political party in different state and professional background. and with the importance of freedom e of religion and the need to shine a light for so
many individuals to exercise their right to religious freedom whether caused by that government action cannot be unchallenged. research has found countries appalled religious freedom have more democratic political institutions rising social well-being's and greater stability those that failed to protect the human rights including religious freedom is fertile ground for poverty war on terror and violence so now let me turn over to speak about those key recommendations. >> thank you chair.
focuses on two groups of countries those we recommend the state department designate as countries of particular concern and those that we recommend the state department plays on the special watchlist cpc's that the government engages in her tolerates systematic ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom. the swr is countries for the violations meet to that not all three of the egregious test. in our 2022 annual report which covers a recording period we recommended 15 countries for cpc status ten of which the state department
designated cpc in 2021 burma, china, iran, north korea, pakistan russia and saudi arabia and turkmenistan. we urge the state department to be designate these ten countries in the 2022 designations which are expected later this year. we hope the state department will have the five additional countries afghanistan, india, nigeria, sya in vietnam. and in addition we recommend the state department maintain a special watchlist three countries algeria, cuba. and add nine countries to that last to that list central african republic indonesia and iraq and kazakhstan and
malaysia and in addition to this cpc recommendations and for example calling on the state department for years to refrain from issuing waivers for cpc countries which essentially releases us governmentnt from taking legislative mandated actions as a result of the designation of a sanction. currently the us government has waivers in place for for cpc designated countries we force that policy to make appropriate policy changes to demonstrate meaningful consequences for positive change and in congress we continue to recommend individual members for
international religious freedom by raising the issue in the floor speeches and congressional delegationsie and by sponsoring to the human rights commission defending freedomm project. these kinds of actions push our government to do more and put pressure on foreign government to live up to the treaty obligation to defend freedom of religion and belieff as enshrined of international law and with that it is my great honor to turn it over to the former congressman and key contributor from back in 1988 and to talk about the recent policy recommendations implemented as well as the case study for nigeria thank you for attending and also the
good work he has done anyone to think that commissioner for his review marks on cpc that he is a distinguished philosophy professor which is a great university and professor and department chair and also like to introduce another commissioner who was appointed by senate minority leader mitch w mcconnell and with those thoughts as assistant to the k president for legislative affairs in the whitef house and many staff positions on capitol hill to the united states senate and
and to be chief of staff from don nichols and was closely involved in the legislation in 1988 we have been involved from the a executive branch the state department but also capitol hill for the united states senate which is a unique place but to understand it. there is a lot of work to do. ten years ago to do a survey 70 percent of thehe worlds population lived in a religious or oppressive nation but the latest is now 80 percentma and maybe the figure is going higher recommending a number of recommendations in the past year that has been successfully implemented the call for the administration to determine atrocities against china and then to constitute genocide. the us government official
should not attend the beijing 2022 winter olympics in china. the religious groups fleeing persecution must be prioritized in the resettlement effort and increase the use of human rights sanctions against individuals for religious freedom and we are glad to see that congress permanently reauthorized the accountability act and we have the forest labor prevention act and this is important and i appreciate the comments of nigeria and headed by men designated as many remember to be concerned for the first time in for some reason to be
delisted that country last year the findings of the commission confirms that position the state department should we designate the cpc the share there was an attack on the catholic church on pentecost sunday that killed at least 40 people. is just a recent example of the violence in nigeria for the number of killings. especiallyis against christians and it seems only this last month and my own view with that designation is necessary but nothe sufficient to address the broad-spectrum. every day there is an article
every day somebody hasgr been killed it is a broad spectrum so much more has to be done and t' watch genocide that is a big word it's a powerful word the boko haram is involved in genocide. note question and also those involved in genocidal massacres and then lately against the catholic church every day i get a new article but the commission is saying is such a sufficient for those abuses but i close by saying that it is the largest country
in africa nigeria has over maybe 20 million people and many believe it when you go there they are good people they look to the united states to do something and people say so goes nigeria so goes all of western africa we should do everything we can and we should be supportive of all nigerian people thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you commissioners and to all of you who have come to this event today we now want to open it up as a roundtable format and we want to open up to any questions and comments to give the balance of the time to engage with our
commissioners to ask questions some of the things we highlighted today or any other questions that might be on your mind if you do want to make a comment or ask a question we can get this to you to speak into the mic and ask your question i will open the floor to any of you who would like please raise your hand for a comment or question. >> thank you very much i with liberty trust and for any of that commissioners and to bring up afghan religion they are stacked in afghanistan
that they are at risk of death if all kinds of terrible stories and ngos have evacuated in the uae while others are process you don't have preferential treatment and the only answer is to do a ukraine type of thing where religious groups are willing to takeis care of their fellow believers but i'm wondering if commissioners have that on the radar screen because they try to clear out by the end of august just around the corner. thank you.
>> just to make that formal recommendation for the pe to status in the annual report or even before we made that recommendation we still hope to see that may forward so i think we're all on the same page as you well know it's been quite complicated this one —- but definitely still on our radar thank you for asking. >> thank youou for the work you are doing behind the scenes that i think any of us can truly appreciate that we can acknowledge it and i'm'm curious to know the key priorities and recommendations from your recent trip to nigeria and what he will play in place what statema department to ensure those mass atrocities? >> .
>> i'm not speaking for the commission and to tell you where they went but the fact that the commission speak strongly it's very significant and i have to be careful not speaking for the commission now that nigeria has to be as i'm speaking for myself one of the major priorities ande i think what needs to be done there needs to be a special envoy if many of you recall there was a very difficult time in sudan and after leaving the senate becomes a special envoy for sudan.
he went to sedan quite frequently and was able to organize the british is a responsibility they were not necessarily doing what they should have done so i think john danforth to be a special envoy working on the violence but also to coordinate the work with the british and the french and there is tremendous hunger in nigeria and in can't's, 10 percent or more of the children are not going to the school so the one person this administration is confident with president bush and secretary powell have great confidence to have somebody who has given that responsibility to coordinate all the efforts also working
with britain with that special envoy for nigeria so what others are saying so goes the country but now i'm speaking for myself. is not on the trip. >> i waited add to that is where questions come in with those countries and regions benign nigeria specifically one of the focus we spent time on is the current administrationco delisted in speaking at very strongly that it warranted that designation is commissionable said waiting to hear more from commissioner davies was just there a few
weeks ago and upon his return has felt when he saw on the ground warrants that type of designation based on what we saw in meetingd with the embassy and religious communities and experts. it's something we're focusing on because weo do feel conditions have not improved if anything to deteriorate to take them off the list from one year to another is not warranted and we have more detail and that for our report. next question. >> hello everyone. playing taiwan for 26 years with the international community and i and here to see if you can help for her
this kind of case for 26 years. thank you. >> thank t you very much for the question and raisingto the issue i do believe it's important to hear more details about this and if there is a role to play and those could be on and certainly again speaking for myself there is a lot of passion and energy from many members in congress and the importance of standing in solidarity with taiwan especially given what happened
as a close personal friend of mine i share your concerns. speaking as an individual in life has become very difficult and i share your concern. >> the commission is taken every opportunity to highlight the plight of pakistan and elsewhere. the situation unfortunately doesn't seem to go in a positive direction because we were concerned for many years until it was eventually designated mainly because of the training but also the wider range of problems in
pakistan as well have a set of recommendations around that but certainly we appreciate your information that you provided to us to highlight these issues and we hope to get a visit to pakistan that's a priority in terms of travel going back and has been several years because of the pandemic but we do hope to get back on the road later this year to pakistan to see things firsthand. please for that information. on —- forward that information. >> you have a follow-up? then we will get to the next question. i'm recording the meeting will call.
>> we've been doing a lot of groundwork that them there where is the block that went off had, i was very happy to hear them. of course, the chatham house rules. i can't really share a lot of them. but the questions that the inclusion of ahmadis, the fact that the first foreign minister of pakistan was ahmadi was also raised by people. so i think the more that we engage with them, the more we're gonna be able to, especially as women, we have a unique position to be able to talk about this. and there were men, women, clerks, government or from all sides sitting there at that event. we talked about lgbtq, which is for pakistan, unusual. and then we also talked about the ahmadis. we actually visited the christian communities in peshawar and we found that they
were the lowest, they said were the lowest on the totem pole. and it was very sad to see that if, you know, my educators were christians and pakistan. and to see them down there now find, you know, we've got so many other issues to handle. but i think the most important thing to remember out of that 1.5 years of engagement as a representative of the round table, is that we need to engage. we need to engage more pakistanis and more ahmadis. and of course, the commissioners. we need to take delegations together because the moment you engage, they think the world is looking at us and then they're conscious the collective conscious, it wakes up. thank you. >> thank you. bob: thank you. my name is bob full from china
aid. i have two quick quick questions. the first one is as we were aware that while the u.n high commissioner on human rights was visiting, fine whining in beijing and in xinjiang, the group of mainstream media outlets along with the v.o.c. had reported for the first time this previously undisclosed secret documents. a truth of information with the names, thousands, at least 3000 names, of those who suffer in the concentration camps. and also some secret documents showing the top chinese communist party leaders had been actively engineering this modern day genocide in xinjiang, and one of them is xi jinping. his name has been quoted by the
minister of the public security, the commission of the political and legal affairs of the communist party, his name was quoted repeatedly said according to president or chairman xi jinping, this should be done. so, very clearly, xi jinping himself in this case, it should be personally held accountable. so my first question is as an independent body, the uscirf, are you going to do something about it? at least recommend the administration administration can do their waiver or you know, whatever in their names. but i think as a principle according to the global magnitsky, you know, the human rights accountability act.
we have sanctioned [indiscernible} of course, the first, you remember after so much effort by everyone here. but are we, or do we, have the guts to even telling the world or telling the administration that xi jinping should be on the list, should be sanctioned because he is personally accountable for engineering this genocide? secondly, under xi jinping, of course the persecution, religious persecution in china has been really in the worst sense, the cultural revolution in the 1960's. we have the chinese american, you know, pastor don hall sentenced to seven years in prison and still in prison in china. and hundreds of thousands of
churches has been shut down. and really everyday received reports. i'm sure the commissioner has been receiving reports and being briefed. so one of the churches had was suffered so much from shenzhen, one of the supposedly most open city next to hong kong. a congregation of 60 members with the 32 children, 28 adults had to escape to jeju island, south korea two years ago. and unfortunately, the south korean government, because of the their refugee asylum system and also presumably a fear of china's retribution, had been repeatedly deny their asylum. i know on friday, the lantos commission held a hearing on examining the south koreans asylum policy.
but my question is we -- to president biden's credit, he has raised the quota for refugee resettlement, like double three times and partially the quota also goes to the asia, east asia and south asia. but it's very disappointing to see even the new york times reported that in the last fiscal year, even with the quota was already allocated, not a single one refugee seeker from china was being recognized, was being resettled into the united states of america, including not a single uighur was recognized as refugees overseas and resettled to the us. so with this 60 members, and we have intelligence showing they
are now in jeju island facing a possible kidnapping by the chinese operators. because now the jeju has relaxed its covid rules allowing those chinese can go there without needing a visa. so that's my question is would the uscirf, the commissioner, put this as a priority to help the administration to understand the dynamics, you know, those asylum seekers, especially from the religious persecuted faithful, you know, the chinese government has been engaging this transnational kidnapping? i mean, we kind of personally rescue people when they are facing imminent. i mean, they already kidnapped in like thailand in the airport and in dubai, uae government
working with china kidnapping this refugee seekers. would you help at least you know, give the administration some suggestion advice to recognize them and working with the u.s. embassies in these countries before the chinese government kidnapping them back to china? and to resettle them? yeah, as the modern day mayflower church, that's what they are known. and the pastor was actually ordained as a presbyterian church pastor by the presbyterian church in america denomination in philadelphia. >> thank you so much. let me turn it to our chair, nury turkel. i'm sure he'll want to respond to this. chair turkel: thank you. thank you, pastor. this is -- before i start addressing the china issues. one of the -- i am gonna add a few points to the earlier countries that we've discussed, nigeria,
pakistan and others. one of the classic mistakes, traditional mistakes, repeated mistakes that our government and others make always when it's called out governments entities individuals. when it's convenient. and look the other way when it's inconvenient or politically not expedient. i think that's the wrong approach. in the case of nigeria, we made that mistake. we disagree with the state department. we will continue to press the state department to reverse that decision and call nigeria cpc country and use diplomatic influence and pressure to make make change on the ground. on the p2, on the afghan issue, as pastor pointed out, this is something that the united states government could do on a humanitarian ground. uscirf hold hearings on this issue and other issues related to humanitarian assistance. we support the u.s. government to resettle vulnerable religious
individuals from the religious communities around the world. as for china, we also support targeted sanctions. we have held not only one hearing hearings how to address atrocity crimes, how to stop genocide, not only the weaker genocide, we also have been focusing on the zd genocide. we've been focusing on rohingya genocide. we made recommendations to the state department. the sanctions are specifically the global magnitsky sanctions , is some of the most effective tools that we have here at home in our in other countries that are similar legal tools. that should be not only applied to individuals entities, but also its network. you're absolutely right. in china, the order to persecute religious groups, christians, tibetans and uighurs comes from the top from the ccp leadership. we focus on the provincial
level, that should be also part of the broader targeted sanction effort. so, i support. this has been our position. we have recommended to the u. s. government to sanction the individual that you mentioned earlier. on the church issue that you raise, i think the audience and also the policymakers need to know something about ccp. ccp is anti-religion entity. inherently, anything that religion promotes, teaches, goes on the face of the ccp ideology. that's why they use the terminology, just transformation to force people to become an atheist, force people to give up their way of life, force people to give up their religious beliefs. and now we only know the most brutal version of depression has happened to the uighurs. but it begs the question who
would be the next. so the international community as well as the chinese individuals on the ground, need to pay attention to the ccp policy, specifically going after vulnerable religious ethnic groups. >> i agree with bob fu, these people are endangered. the chinese have gone into places that nobody thought they would ever go in and all of a sudden they pick them up and they take them away and they're never seen again. so clearly, i'm speaking out for myself, not for the commission, there ought to be an effort to allow them to come to the united states to south korea is one of our great allies. we love south korea but to aid them to come here because one day, it could be some day next week, or it could be in three months, all of a sudden they come in and the chinese are active in this country.
reba kadir, who he's related to, called me one time and said that there was a group outside her house in fairfax county. they were taking pictures of her and her license plates and we had the fbi checking, they were chinese security people in fairfax county. we could all drive there in 25 minutes. so bob is exactly right. and lastly, again speaking for myself, every group in china is being persecuted. cardinal zen who's 90 years old has been charged. if cardinal zen had a sentence for years in a jail. i've been in chinese prisons, he would have a very difficult time. i'm 83. to be in a prison, it would be a very, very difficult. there is genocidal activity against the tibetans. i went to tibet saw what they're
taking place. there's been 100 and some, maybe 200 some tibetan monks that have poured kerosene on their bodies and set themselves aflame in protest. and we know the uighurs -- and i appreciate what the commission has done, an administration with regard to that the catholic church, a protestant church that tibetan buddhists and don't forget not to be too graphic, but the fallen gong, they're taking organs out and selling them so i think bob is exactly right. and one of the purposes of the commission, and i think the commission has always been to be a truth teller to maybe say things that are not really popular, but to say the truth. so the commission maintains that credibility. so people know we can get to the commission. so i completely agree. and i think that, you know, again, myself weighing in with the south korean government. i mean, the number of things that we've done for south korea over the years since 1950, i mean, they should be letting them come and come here. and i understand that maybe some
churches here, but that, that will help them in. but i completely agree and i think we should be helping them to get out particularly before because i'll tell you, we all said publicly, but someday you pick up the paper and you find out it won't get big coverage. somebody's been picked up somewhere, whether it be in an airport or whether it be done at a shopping mall or something and you're never ever going to see him again. >> thank you. you had -- yes, that gentleman there, please. >> thank you. i'm duncan. i'm the uighur from the world uighur congress. as you know, today is the three million uighurs -- speaking muslim and suffering the concentration camp in china. because of the city, because of the religious identity. so, you know, all the chinese government parties, anti-religious organizations today is chinese christian is suffering. tibetan buddhists are suffering. uighur muslim are suffering. particularly targeting islam.
but unfortunately, most of some islamic countries, particularly oic, visit china all the time. unfortunately, china today saying islam is ideological illness. it must be eradicated. but unfortunately, most of some islamic countries silenced, some saudi arabia pakistan and this is also supporting the chinese policy against the uighur muslim and oic also made several times. a statement support china. so uscirf, do you have any contact or do you have any effort to approaching to the oic and some other islamic country to change our attitude, and if yes, what what is the reaction? because we were organizations congress as other organizations were trying to approaching oic, but we couldn't. we were not able to success because all the time avoid to contact us.
so what what is your suggestion to the organization? the uighur advocacy movement. how can we approach them for this course? thank you. >> certainly, i can say a few words. i think this is a great idea. we have, you know, urged the oic in the past through engagement to speak out. we think any, frankly, any predominantly muslim country, you know, has an opportunity here to speak out about the plight of uighurs. unfortunately, we've only seen a bit of the opposite in most cases where even some governments have have whitewashed what's going on there. and unfortunately we even saw, you know, a recent visit by the high commissioner for human rights, who went to xinjiang and
did not, speak as commissioner wolf said, truth to power really is what we want to see. so that is a challenge that the oic -- i'm not an expert on the oic. but i can tell you there's a lot of bureaucracy within that organization. and so for things to get out to speak out, unfortunately are not not as simple. i do know that the ambassador at large rashad hussain at the state department, had some recent meetings at the oic and a visit he had to saudi arabia for for other meetings. and i'm pretty sure that was on the list. so it's not for lack of trying. but in terms of what the response you might get is not as adequate as i think we'd like to see. from a coalition that's ready made to speak out on the plight of you know, fellow co religionists and it seems like something that should be done. did you want to add something chair turkel? chair turkel: yes. during the obama administration we had a senior level diplomat representing the united states
government, which is actually -- -- >> in the last several years, we don't have a formal representation. that position has been downgraded and now folded into the diplomatic mission in jeddah. so counselor general is essentially acting as a representative to oic. that should change. without having a seat on the table, we will not be able to influence. >> next question. >> hi. i'm here representing the alliance for absolute justice women organization and i wanted to ask if any of the european countries were on your radar for violating the religious freedoms of muslim women by passing hijab ban laws that not only violate their religious freedom, they
violate their freedom of expression. you know, their right to decide what they deem is adequate clothing and that they're doing things like harassing women on public transportation. you know, a full body swimsuit like burkini is has been banned. and these laws are largely malicious because they're irrelevant. they're passing national laws that impact at the most 35-40 women like in switzerland. they passed a law banning face covering, even though masks -- wearing masks is okay. they passed a law very recently banning face covering and only 35 to 40 women aspire to even do that. in austria, the number is less than 150. and then, you know, countries like france are passing, you know, especially pernicious
laws, belgium, denmark, netherlands, are any of these countries on your radar because they are persecuting the weakest of the weak, the most voiceless minority in their countries. >> i'm gonna buy a minute for my colleague to speak. if you could bring the mic dylan down this way to to elizabeth, i will just say we have focused through not only public hearings, but also on contracted research to focus on the plight of muslims in europe. and i'm gonna invite my colleague here to say a few words about some of uscirf's work on just this issue. elizabeth: hi everyone, i'm elizabeth cassidy. i'm director of research and policy at the commission. and yes, it's a great question. and this has been on our radar for a long, long time. i've been on the commission staff for 15 years and and we've spoken out over the years when france was passing various laws against religious symbols and head scarfs and burqas when
switzerland passed its minaret ban. so these have been on our radar for a long time. we talk about in our annual reports, usually we talk about these issues in europe in a sort of section on europe. and then as as dwight just said, we've had a number of events over the years, including a recent hearing maybe two months ago. i'm trying to remember when that was on anti muslim policies and bias in europe. so, good question. and yes, they definitely are on our radar. >> if i may? in addition to the rising islamophobia in europe, we're also concerned about rise of anti semitism in europe. so, these two issues need to be addressed. we -- this is on our agenda. this will be our, one of our key focuses in the coming year. >> absolutely, we had a question on this side. there was a gentleman here in that jacket that has had his hand up for quite some time. but yes, he makes an important point. we've had some hearings and we
will continue to focus on europe as far as anti muslim and anti semitism and some of the policies that continue to concern us. please. simon: good afternoon. my name is simon, and i'm a denver based researcher of cultural heritage crime. but i'm at this table on behalf of the eastern policy initiative called save armenian monuments that advocates for the religious right to pilgrimage regardless of political control. so i have a question on behalf of the organization and please don't kill the messenger. how do commissioners balance engagement with some authoritarian states that are well connected and use the rhetoric of religious freedom to engage in prominent platforms that are at the same time systematic violators of international religious freedom? thank you. >> well, that's an excellent question. and i can tell you, we're actually looking into that more deeply because there are a number of countries, as you say,
that promote religious tolerance, let's say, right, an interfaith activity, but not necessarily freedom of religion or belief. and we have to distinguish between tolerance and religious freedom. so there is a lot of rhetoric in some countries that would be considered authoritarian, dictatorial regimes. i think it's important to engage. the commission has certainly visited a number of these countries, engaged, have recommended to the state department to push forward on these issues because we were actually trying to go deeper and we did do an episode of our podcast focusing on the middle east, some middle eastern countries, where the rhetoric of tolerance is no substitute for true religious freedom. and so we gave some examples. so i would encourage you to look at our website for that. but this is something that needs a lot more attention because there's definitely a movement
i'd say in recent years to speak that language, but it doesn't necessarily mean the policies on the ground, the laws in place, that there has been the adequate reform that backs up this rhetoric or even needs to go further certainly. so, thank you for that question. i don't know if any anyone else wants to comment. >> sure. happy to add in. and absolutely, please take a look at some of the work we've done to date on this. but you raised a great question. and i think at least for me, speaking for myself, listen, freedom of expression for religion should be allowed and tolerated everywhere. and there isn't much reconciliation you need to do when you start with your first principles, well grounded as you approach, challenging and in cases authoritarian regimes. and i speak somewhat from our previous experiences at the department of state, i'm sure others here can talk a little bit about their experiences over the years, too.
so, leaning forward, being clear, not falling or being gold by some of the rhetoric or very clever sophistry that is sometimes put on the table, and persistence and repetition are critical aspects, at least for me and how i see a little bit of my role as a commissioner, especially engaging with the these sorts of regimes and the public voice. i think it was mentioned earlier, when there is focus brought by the commission of particular instances, or systemic challenges in a country or prisoners of conscience, sometimes countries can react in important ways, and that includes, by the way the united states of america, our department of state. as -- laid out earlier, and steve as well, our recommendations have not been
accepted in whole by the department. i find that incredibly unfortunate because the work that the commission does based on its legislative mandate and the support it has in congress amongst the general public and certainly internationally, is very significant. and when the state department falls short from by our lights, i'm certainly it can be shy in calling them out as well, but we always come back to our core calling. our substantive mission. that idea that everywhere there ought to be the opportunity for people to practice their faith and have a freedom of religion without interruption, without direct or indirect suppression. and the ability to fully exercise that freedom is what the framers of the statute, including mr wolf, frank wolf, put in place. and that's something that will be calling my attention, at
least during the pendency of my term. thank you. >> if i may add a thought, a comment on-- i have served in the commission more than two years. i had the unique opportunity to actually speaking with some of the country representatives here at home and abroad. i find those meetings, engagements to be helpful because sometimes we have to present them list of in the bare minimum a list of our poc's that we want to see be freed from prison camps. we also need to talk to them to make specific recommendations in there. religious freedom related, religious issues related ordinance directives or local legislation. we have been actively engaging and they've been coming back to us with some reports. so it's not all bad.
in the optics, it doesn't look good, but in reality, we have to talk to them as commissioner euland mentioned, standing firm in our principal position and engage with them. i find it to be very helpful. dwight: well, thank you very much. time has flown by. it's 2:00. i want to be able to ask others of you to ask questions. unfortunately, our time has run out. i want to thank our commissioners today for having a chance to be up here and interact directly with you. but this is just the beginning. as you know, this is the beginning of a week of the irfa summit, the international religious freedom summit many of you, hopefully all of you, will be participating in some way, starting tomorrow through thursday. there are events all over the place, not only at the plenary but at the renaissance hotel. and i can tell you we will have many of our commissioners there and we'll be on the program, talking about religious prisoners of conscience. just some of what chair turkel was talking about, the importance of putting a face out
there, not just the statistics, not just the numbers to see that these are real people all over the world that are suffering. so, thank you again, one logistical note when you leave, you'll be leaving and exiting the building through the capitol visitors center, so the main exit there. so please keep that in mind. you won't be going through the other congressional entry or exits, but thanks again for coming today and we'll see you again soon. [applause]