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04/15/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – In a letter to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), dozens of human rights advocates and organizations encouraged USCIRF to recommend India as a Country for Particular Concern (CPC) in its 2021 annual report. USCIRF recommended India for CPC status for the first time in last year’s report. The letter argued that conditions for religious minorities have not changed on the ground, and in fact, have only worsened since last year’s report. 

Christians in India have faced dramatically increased attacks and persecution since Prime Minister Modi took power in 2014. Verified cases of persecution skyrocketed from 147 in 2014 to nearly 328 in 2019. The increase comes largely due to the rising level of Hindutva ideology throughout Indian society that emboldens radical Hindus to attack Christians through mob violence. Mobs regularly organize social boycotts against Christians, disrupt church services, destroy property, beat Christians, and falsely accuse them under the anti-forced conversion laws that are in effect in several states across India.

USCIRF is a bipartisan commission established by the United States Congress to monitor and report on religious freedom conditions abroad and make recommendations to the administration. In its annual reports, the Commission publishes its advice to the State Department on which countries are deserving of a CPC designation for religious freedom violations—a designation that carries with it penalties and sanctions against the designated country.

The Commission recommended India’s designation as a CPC last year for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as defined under the International Religious Freedom Act.” Despite the recommendation, the past administration elected not to designate India as a CPC, a decision based on their interpretation that India’s worsening religious freedom condition was due to non-state actors and that the government was not the persecuting entity causing the religious freedom violations.

Matias Perttula, ICC’s Director of Advocacy, said, “We hope to see USCIRF make the recommendation again this year, and further, we hope that the Biden administration continues to champion religious freedom across the globe and make the designation of India as a CPC country official US policy. The United States must lead with its values and champion the cause of religious freedom for everyone, everywhere, all the time.”

For interviews, contact Alison Garcia: [email protected].