The U.S.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a scathing account of the deterioration of religious freedom in China over the past 12 months, as he revealed his department’s assessment.
On the release of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report, Pompeo said Chinese Communist Party’s “state-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify.”
“The mass detentions of Uighurs in [the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region] continues, so does the repression of Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong and Christians,” said Pompeo, accusing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of seeking to “infuse communist dogma” into faith groups’ teachings.
The report states that In 2019 the CCP had “tortured, physically abused, arrested, detained, sentenced to prison, subjected to forced indoctrination in CCP ideology, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices.”
This year’s report is the second time a stand-alone section on Xinjiang has been highlighted. It was introduced last year “given the scope and severity of reported religious freedom violations” specific to the region. Reports from previous years singled out only Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Individual cases were cited in the report, among them was the prosecution of Wang Yi, a Christian pastor who was charged with inciting state subversion and other crimes. He received a sentence last December to nine years in prison.
According to the report, “more than one million” Uighurs and other ethnic minority groups have been detained in mass internment camps for the purpose of forced indoctrination since April 2017. The United Nations concurs with this estimate.
The CCP used the “three evils” of “ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism” during 2019 to justify its crackdown on the Muslim population in Xinjiang, states the report.
The CCP has pushed back against criticism of the mass internment camps, claiming they are a humane and legitimate response to the threat of religious extremism. Most detainees had “completed their study and found new jobs,” said a regional official last summer, reported South China Morning Post.
“Even if they were released, they’re released into a virtual police state that China has created,” said Samuel Brownback, Washington’s special envoy for international religious freedom. The deployment of hi-tech surveillance in Xinjiang indicates what “the future of what oppression is going to look like” around China, he said.