September 18, 2006
It cited widely reported "repression" of unregistered Protestant church networks and "house" churches, "tightly controlled" religious activity in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and "restrictions" on Tibetan Buddhism.
"Falun Gong practitioners continued to face arrest, detention, and imprisonment, and there have been credible reports of deaths due to torture and abuse," it said.
Practitioners who refuse to recant their beliefs, the report said, were sometimes subjected to harsh treatment in prisons, and re-education through labor camps and extra-judicial "legal education" centers.
The State Department has been designating
The report said religious reforms which came into effect in
"It's been a disappointing time, where the general trend has stalled over the last two or three years," John Hanford, US envoy for international religious freedom, told a media briefing on Friday.
The reforms "seemed to open the door maybe for some previously unregistered groups to be registered, and also the idea that house gatherings of friends and family would be fine," he said.
"But repeatedly we find problems here where the government continues to raid these sorts of meetings in some cases, and arrest people and throw them in jail," he said.
"You'll find, for example, among Uighur Muslims, that mothers can be arrested and thrown in jail for extensive periods of time simply for training their children in their faith,"
"And we find Sunday school teachers in Catholic and Protestant settings are sometimes arrested as well," he said.
"There seemed to be some progress earlier this year, but then a setback over the appointment of certain bishops," he said.