(Minghui.org) In its 2013 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) states, “Poor religious freedom conditions in China deteriorated significantly.”

In the 2012 annual report on international religious conditions, USCIRF also stated: “Poor religious freedom conditions in China deteriorated significantly, particularly for Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims. To stem the growth of independent Catholic and Protestant groups, the government detained and arrested leaders, forcibly closed churches, and selected Catholic bishops without the approval of the Vatican. The Falun Gong, and other groups, … face long-term imprisonments, forced renunciations of faith, and torture in detention.”

U.S. Congressman Chris Smith from New Jersey, who introduced the report, pointed out that the United States cannot ignore religious and human rights abuses in countries such as China that have a consistently poor record on this issue.

Human Rights without Frontiers issued a global report on freedom of religion or belief prior to the USCIRF annual report in 2012. The organization highlighted Armenia, North Korea, China, and Iran as countries with an exceptionally poor record. In addition to Christians and minority belief groups, Falun Gong practitioners were the group that was subjected to the most brutal persecution, noted the report.

Attorney Jitian Tang, who has represented Falun Gong practitioners in court many times, said to Voice of America that China’s human rights situation has not changed following the change in leadership last year. “I think the Chinese Communist Party has no active change. They continue to persecute Falun Gong practitioners who do not give up their belief by sending them to labor camps or imprisoning them,” he said.

The USCIRF 2013 annual report noted that human rights lawyers were also being harassed and persecuted in China.

Mr. Tang referenced some specific cases: “For example, lawyer Wang Quanzhang was detained by Jingjiang Court, in Jiangsu Province, after defending Falun Gong practitioners. On April 12, lawyers Cheng Hai and Liang Xiaojun were beaten by police for defending Falun Gong practitioners. … For almost 14 years, the Chinese Communist Party has never stopped the persecution of Falun Gong.”

Falun Gong practitioners and their families in China have persistently resisted the persecution, winning more and more sympathy and support from the public, noted Mr. Tang.