State Division report: China among the many worst offenders of non secular freedom
Senior officials from the U.S. State Department have identified China as one of the world's worst offenders of freedom of religion for imprisoning religious minorities and forcing them to do forced labor.
Sam Brownback, general ambassador for religious freedom, told reporters during a press conference on June 10 that the U.S. State Department has no evidence that Muslim Uighurs have been released from prison or detention and that workers have been forced to do forced labor.
Brownback and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's comments during the release of the 2019 annual report on international religious freedom continued the U.S. government's month-long campaign, which severely criticized the Chinese government's actions on several fronts.
The report follows President Donald Trump's signature of an executive ordinance on June 2, in which U.S. support for religious freedom in diplomacy is a priority worldwide.
China was classified as a "particularly worrying country" in the 1999 annual reports.
"China is continuing its decades-long war on belief," Pompeo told reporters.
"The Chinese Communist Party is now ordering religious organizations to obey the CCP leadership and incorporate the Communist dogma into their teachings and practices of their beliefs," he added. “The mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang continues. This also applies to the oppression of Tibetans and Buddhists as well as Falun Gong and Christians. "
The section on China was the largest in the report. Widespread discrimination against Uyghur Muslims was cited as a cause for concern.
The Chinese government recognizes five official religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. Members of each of these religious groups must register before they can attend services. However, many faith practitioners have reported being monitored and persecuted.
The report said the Chinese government continues to justify restrictions on Muslim religious practices in Xinjiang due to the so-called "three evils" of "ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism".
More than 1 million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Hui and members of other Muslim groups, as well as Uyghur Christians have been detained in Xinjiang detention centers, the report said. Those arrested were subjected to "enforced disappearance, political indoctrination, torture, physical and psychological abuse, including forced sterilization and sexual abuse, forced labor and lengthy detention without trial based on their religion and ethnicity."
The report also identified other countries for violations of religious freedom.
In Nigeria, "terrorist groups" including Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa attacked population centers and religious targets and maintained growing ability to base armed forces in rural areas and launch attacks against civilian and military targets across the northeast. "
The report reiterated earlier findings that, in Vietnam, "members of religious groups said some local and provincial authorities had used local and national regulatory systems to slow, delegitimize, and suppress religious activities by groups committed to tight governance by their leaders, theirs Training programs and assemblies opposed and other activities. "
The report said religious groups without government recognition "reported various forms of government harassment," including assault, arrests, law enforcement, surveillance, travel restrictions, and seizure or destruction of property, as well as refusing or not responding to registration requests Applications.
In India, a close ally of the United States, the report increased reports of violence against religious and ethnic minorities, government critics and the government's inability to prevent such incidents.
"Some officials from Hindu majority parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), made inflammatory public statements or social media contributions against minority communities," the report said.
Brownback also noted that the ally Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans all churches. Since 2004, Saudi Arabia has been a "country of special importance" under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 "because it has committed or tolerated particularly serious violations of religious freedom".
"Most recently, on December 18, the Foreign Minister renamed Saudi Arabia as CPC and announced that the sanctions associated with the designation would be lifted," the report added.
Pompeo pointed to positive developments regarding measures taken to account for violations of religious freedom:
– The Gambia has charged the International Court of Justice with a case that Myanmar committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim ethnic group of the Rohingya.
– Uzbekistan has strengthened religious freedom and ended police raids against unregistered religious groups.
– The United Arab Emirates was the first country in the Middle East to enable the construction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The report also attributed the Democratic Republic of the Congo to improving government-religious relations since President Felix Tshisekedi's inauguration in January 2019, based on media reports and statements by religious leaders.
“Unlike last year, there were no reports of acts of violence or government intimidation by Catholic Church officials. In March, the government released several political prisoners from the lay Catholic community (CLC), who was arrested in 2018 for leading protests that NGOs and others have described as arbitrary action, ”the report said.
The report is based on the results of individual U.S. embassies in each nation. US diplomats collect information from government officials, religious groups, non-governmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, the media, and others, the report said in the introduction.
The State Department's Office for International Religious Freedom gathers and analyzes additional information from various sources.