Religious Freedom Commissioners ‘Flattered’ by China’s Sanctions

CHINA, HOTAN : This photo taken on April 16, 2015 shows Uighur men praying in a mosque in Hotan, in China's western Xinjiang region. Chinese authorities have restricted expressions of religion in Xinjiang in recent years such as wearing veils, fasting during Ramadan and young men growing beards, sparking widespread …
AFP PHOTO / Greg BAKER

The leaders of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Sunday they are “flattered” to be on the list of those the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sanctioned.

Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins, the chairman and vice chairman of the USCIRF, wrote in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal that the CCP sanctions represent “a desperate attempt to silence international scrutiny of Beijing’s abysmal human-rights record, particularly its genocidal policies against the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and its persecution of other religious minorities.”

“We won’t be intimidated or silenced,” the chairmen stated, and “we are proud that USCIRF has long been at the forefront in exposing the Communist Party’s egregious religious-freedom violations.”

They went on:

In fact, we’re flattered by the Chinese government’s recognition for our work in defending religious freedom in China, as we join an increasing list of courageous American, European and other officials on whom the party has likewise applied sanctions for standing up to a regime that has violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

As Breitbart News reported, last summer the USCIRF accused the Chinese government of creating “an Orwellian surveillance state with an unprecedented ability to gather private information about its citizens,” which it is using to monitor Christians and other religious minorities.

At a USCIRF-sponsored hearing on “the Chinese government’s use of surveillance and data analytic technology to oppress religious groups,” Gayle Manchin observed that religious freedom in China has only gotten worse under the leadership of Xi Jinping.

“I would like to begin by acknowledging the tremendous suffering the people of China have experienced under the Chinese Communist government,” Manchin said. “USCIRF has been warning about religious freedom violations in China since the Commission was created in 1998, and the situation has only deteriorated since then.”

“Throughout the country, Chinese authorities have raided underground house churches, arrested Christians who refuse to join the state-run churches, and banned children younger than 18 years old from attending services,” she noted.

What we are seeing today in China is the Communist Party “deliberately using technology to undermine religious freedom and other fundamental rights,” she declared.

For his part, Tony Perkins noted the CCP employs artificial intelligence systems combining information from video surveillance, facial and voice recognition, GPS tracking, and other data “in order to track certain religious communities.”

“Authorities even installed cameras on the pulpits of churches and other houses of worship, allowing the Party to identify and monitor anyone who attends services,” Perkins said.

In their op-ed Sunday, Manchin and Perkins said Beijing’s latest threats have given them “a glimpse into the state-led oppression under which so many Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and others are forced to live.”

“Beijing’s belligerent rhetoric and actions demonstrate that international criticism and scrutiny of its human-rights record are effective,” they added. “Genocide and crimes against humanity are deeply damaging to China’s image and undermine its ambition to project itself as a global power.”

The two commissioners also urged Congress to pass the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would create a “rebuttable presumption” that bans all goods exported from Xinjiang.

The U.S. “should also urge international partners to investigate independently and determine formally whether the Chinese Communist Party’s abusive policies in Xinjiang amount to genocide and crimes against humanity, as well as supporting an impartial international investigation of the question,” they declared.

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