U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has lashed out against China’s policy of religious repression, terming the regime’s actions as being in a “league of its own.” He was speaking at the occasion of the release of Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018 by the U.S. State Department.
China’s religious persecution
“In just 2018, China intensified its campaign of detaining Muslim minority groups at record levels. Today, more than 1 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims are interned in reeducation camps designed to erase their religious and ethnic identities. The government also is increasing its persecution against Christians, Tibetans, and anyone who espouses different views from those or advocates those of government,” Pompeo said in a statement (U.S. Department of State).
Though the Chinese government has tried to argue that the internment camps are just a way to “combat terrorism,” the report states that several international human rights organizations have confirmed the opposite. Many detainees were abused and tortured in the camps.
Pompeo also went on to highlight human rights violations in other countries last year. In Iran, the government had killed over 20 people and arrested thousands who were protesting for their rights. In South Sudan, military forces committed acts of sexual violence against civilians who supported a different political ideology. In Nicaragua, critics of the government have been facing exile, jail, or death as a result of their activities.
Meanwhile, Michael Kozak, the head of the State Department’s human rights and democracy bureau, has termed China’s persecution of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang as “one of the most serious human rights violations in the world today.”
“For me, you haven’t seen things like this since the 1930s… Rounding up, in some estimations… in the millions of people, putting them into camps, and torturing them, abusing them, and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion and so on from their DNA… It’s just remarkably awful,” he said to Reuters.
Though Kozak did not elaborate on what the reference to the 1930s was about, it probably alluded to the policies of persecution adopted by Germany under Hitler’s Nazi rule and Russia under Stalin’s communist dictatorship.
Last month, Chinese authorities arrested 45 reporters working for the online magazine “Better Winter” who were investigating the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) repressive policies against religious adherents. The reporters were detained on charges of “infiltration by foreign forces” and “divulging state secrets. There is one enemy that totalitarian regimes fear more than any else — a free press. They know they should use all means to prevent their wrongdoings from being exposed internationally by free media. For these reasons the signers call on democratic governmental authorities, international organizations, and the media to ask China to immediately release the arbitrarily detained Bitter Winter reporters, and to comply with the international obligations on human rights and freedom of the media,” a petition that called for the release of the reporters, signed by the European Inter-Religious Forum for Religious Freedom, stated New Europe.
Among the 45 detainees, four were classified as “first-level” suspects because they reported about Catholic priests in the country who were critical of the Vatican-China deal. 23 journalists were eventually released but kept under strict surveillance. However, the status of the remaining 22 reporters is unknown.