U.S. Department of State: “A Global Movement on Religious Freedom Is Now a Reality”
(Minghui.org) On International Religious Freedom Day (October 27), U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued a press release reiterating efforts by the United States on religious freedom.
This is a continuation of the consistent actions by the U.S. Government to counter persecutions based on belief, especially those that are occurring in China. Around the globe, the U.S. and other Western countries have stepped up their efforts to sanction human rights perpetrators, including those involved in the suppression of Falun Gong in China.
U.S. Department of State Press Release
The International Religious Freedom Act was adopted by the U.S. in 1998 to promote the fundamental rights of religious freedom for people in the entire world, remarked Pompeo. “An individual, irrespective of their religion or beliefs, should be free to organize their lives in accordance with their consciences,” he said, adding this is a core U.S. foreign policy priority.
“Yet today, three of the world’s most egregious religious freedom abusers—the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Iran, and North Korea—have tightened their coercive measures to silence their own people,” he continued, “Worse, the PRC has sought to eradicate all forms of faith and belief that don’t align with Chinese Communist Party doctrine.”
“A global movement on religious freedom is now a reality,” concluded Pompeo, “one rich in regional, cultural, and political diversity—testifying to a universal, unequivocal truth: every person, everywhere, has the right to believe or not believe, change one’s beliefs, speak one’s beliefs, gather and teach.”
That was why the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA) was launched in February 2020, through which “31 nations have pledged their commitment to this like-minded network dedicated to addressing challenges around the world.” Since then several countries have released individuals, who were wrongfully imprisoned for their beliefs, to reunite with their families.
Commitment from 31 Nations
According to the U.S. Department of State, IRFBA was formed by like-minded countries to advance freedom of religion or belief around the world. The organization believes more must be done to protect members of religious minority groups and combat discrimination and persecution based on religion or belief.
Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, also criticized the situation in China.
“China has declared war on faith. We’ve seen increasing Chinese government abuse of believers of nearly all faiths and from all parts of the mainland,” he said during an interview with ShareAmerica on October 22, “China has increased its repression of Christians, shutting down churches and arresting adherents for their peaceful religious practices. And to this, we say to China: Do not be mistaken; you will not win your war on faith. This will have consequences on your standing at home and around the world.”
Sanctioning Human Rights Violators
In the past several months, many countries including the U.S. have intensified actions against human rights abusers.
On July 9, the U.S. Government announced to sanction Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and four Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials under the Global Magnitsky Act passed by Congress in 2016. “China is imposing a reign of terror on religious minorities—Christian, Tibetan Buddhist, Uighur Muslim, Falun Gong and others,” reported Wall Street Journal in an article titled “China’s Main Threat Is a Moral One” on September 22, 2019.
One of the four CCP officials is Chen Quanguo, CCP Secretary in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region who used to work in Henan Province. Another Wall Street Journal article published on April 7, 2019, covered the human rights violation committed by Chen when he worked in Henan Province. “After the government outlawed the Falun Gong spiritual group in 1999, Mr. Chen participated in the crackdown as a senior Henan official, with responsibilities over the destruction of the group’s pamphlets, books, and CDs. He later oversaw efforts to cleanse Henan party ranks of Falun Gong by re-educating and expelling offenders, according to provincial histories,” wrote the article titled “China’s Hard Edge: The Leader of Beijing’s Muslim Crackdown Gains Influence.”
Germany's Federal Democratic Party (FDP) also passed Magnitsky legislation in September. Gyde Jensen, Member of Parliament, referred to the legislation to punish human and international law violations worldwide.
Although the EU Parliament passed a resolution in 2019 for member countries to enact laws similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, Germany had not implemented it, explained Jensen. That was why she hoped that laws similar to those in the United Kingdom and Canada based on the Global Magnitsky Act could be adopted.
Lists of Human Rights Perpetrators Against Falun Gong Submitted
Falun Gong practitioners have also been working with numerous governments to hold human rights perpetrators accountable for their crimes. In July 2020, practitioners in five countries (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) submitted a third list of perpetrators involved in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
This new list follows one submitted in September 2019 and another in November 2019, respectively. Similar to the earlier submissions, the new list includes individuals at different levels of government across different regions in China.
Human rights violators are often pursued their entire lives. Reinhold Hanning, an SS guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp in occupied Poland between 1942 and 1944, was convicted in a German court in 2016 as an accessory to 170,000 murders. Oskar Gröning, another SS guard stationed at the Auschwitz concentration camp until 1944, was found guilty of facilitating mass murder and sentenced to four years of imprisonment at age 93 in 2015.