One of America’s biggest adversaries is also the biggest threat to religious freedom across the globe.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Thursday in Indonesia that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is waging a “war” against people of all faiths.
The “gravest threat to the future of religious freedom is the Chinese Communist Party’s war against people of all faiths: Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners alike,” Secretary Pompeo told political and religious leaders gathered in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.
“The atheist Chinese Communist Party has tried to convince the world that its brutalization of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang is necessary as a part of its counterterrorism efforts or poverty alleviation,” Secretary Pompeo explained to his audience in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
“But you know – you know; we know – we know that there is no counterterrorism justification for forcing Uyghur Muslims to eat pork during Ramadan or destroying a Muslim cemetery,” Pompeo said in his speech, titled “Unalienable Rights and Traditions of Tolerance.”
“There is no poverty-alleviation justification for forced sterilizations or taking children away from their parents to be re-educated in state-run boarding schools,” he added.
Pulling no punches, the U.S. Secretary urged his hearers to examine the facts and to draw their own conclusions about the CCP.
“I know that the Chinese Communist Party has tried to convince Indonesians to look away, to look away from the torments your fellow Muslims are suffering,” he said.
“I know that these same CCP officials have spun fantastic tales of happy Uyghurs eager to discard their ethnic, religious, and cultural identities to become more ‘modern’ and enjoy the benefits of CCP-led development,” he added.
“When you hear these arguments, I’d just ask you to do this: search your hearts,” he said. “Look at the facts. Listen to the tales of the survivors and of their families.”
“Think about what you know of how authoritarian governments treat those who resist its rule,” Pompeo continued. “There are now dozens – maybe hundreds – of credible academic and research reports documenting what is taking place in Xinjiang.”
The Secretary said he had personally had the chance to hear the stories of this suffering first-hand when he met in Kazakhstan with relatives of ethnic Kazakhs who had been held in camps in western China.
“Their tears filled my heart – first with anger and then with resolve,” he said.
“That meeting underscored to me how precious God-given freedoms are and the responsibility that each of us has to defend them. And indeed, my faith teaches me the same thing,” he said, while inviting his audience to discover similar teachings in their own religious tradition.
“As an evangelical Christian, my faith informs how I live, how I work, how I think,” he told them.
“I’m here – I’m here in Indonesia because I believe that Indonesia shows us the way forward,” he insisted. “There is literally no reason that Islam can’t co-exist peacefully alongside Christianity or Buddhism.”
“And I know – I know this is something that is sometimes hard to grasp for those few who twist Islamic teachings to justify violence in the name of this faith,” he said.
“Indonesians and Americans know that this is wrong. We know that peaceful co-existence and mutual respect is possible,” he added.
“You’ve given this model of how different faiths and different ethnic groups and political ideologies can co-exist peacefully and settle their disagreements through democratic means. This is glorious,” he said.