by WorldTribune Staff, June 11, 2020
In sharp contrast to that of the United States, the Chinese government is continuing to crack down on ethnic and religious minorities, including Falun Gong members, Tibetan Buddhists, Muslims, and underground Protestant and Catholic churches, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on June 10.
“In China, state-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify,” Pompeo said in releasing the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now ordering religious organizations to obey CCP leadership and infuse communist dogma into their teachings and practice of their faith. The mass detentions of Uighurs in Xinjiang continues. So does the repression of Tibetans and Buddhists and Falun Gong and Christians,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also cited the Nicaraguan government, which he said “harasses and intimidates religious leaders and worshipers and desecrates religious spaces, often using proxies.”
In Nigeria, “ISIS and Boko Haram continue to attack Muslims and Christians alike,” Pompeo said. “ISIS beheaded 10 Christians in that country just this past December.”
Pompeo however highlighted positive developments in religious freedom over the past year:
• The Gambia, an International Freedom Alliance member, “has courageously brought a case before the International Court of Justice regarding crimes against the Rohingya.”
• The United Arab Emirates, “long an ally for religious freedom in the Middle East, has become the first country in the Middle East to permit the construction of a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
• In Uzbekistan, “steps have been taken to improve its record on religious freedom, and those steps continue. I had a great chat with religious leaders where I was there earlier this year.”
Pompeo also noted that, last week President Donald Trump signed the first ever executive order that instructs the entire U.S. Government to prioritize religious freedom.
“Here at the State Department, I’ve hosted the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom now twice. We’ve launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance. We’ve trained our Foreign Service officers to understand religious freedom issues much more deeply,” Pompeo said.
In other developments, Pompeo said he was “humbled and honored to meet with several survivors” of the Chinese Communist Party’s massacre at Tiananmen Square that happened 31 years ago.
“There is no equivalence between our two forms of government,” Pompeo said. “We have the rule of law; China does not. We have free speech and embrace peaceful protest. They don’t. We defend religious freedom; as I just noted, China continues its decades-long war on faith.
“The contrast couldn’t be more clear: During the best of times, China ruthlessly imposes communism. And amidst the most difficult challenges the United States faces, we work to secure freedom for all.”
Pompeo also took aim at China’s coroanvirus response: “China’s contributions to fighting the pandemic are paltry compared to the financial and human costs of the cover-up that it engendered. And I note too our concern that China will exploit the pandemic as a pretext to continue its opaque lending practices that have led nations to debt and disappointment all throughout Africa.”
Turning to Russia, Pompeo said the United States “will also keep our focus on Moscow’s human rights violations. Since 2015, Russia has conscripted thousands of Crimean men into its armed forces and imposed criminal penalties on those who do not comply. Russia must end its repression of those who oppose its occupation, release unjustly imprisoned Ukrainians, and return full control to the peninsula of Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine.”
In brighter news, on the other side of the Atlantic, Pompeo hailed the opening of the new U.S. consulate in Nuuk, Greenland. “It’s the culmination of the administration’s efforts to strengthen our engagement in the Arctic region, and a big thanks to Ambassador Carla Sands and her team in Copenhagen for help making this happen,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also lauded France for its announcement of operations that killed Abdelmalek Droukdal, the leader of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.