Pompeo Blasts ‘Atheist’ China for Muslim Abuse on Indonesia Trip

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Secretary of State Michael Pompeo condemned China’s persecution of Muslim Uighurs and other religious minorities as he visited Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation, days ahead of the U.S. election.

Pompeo urged Indonesia’s religious leaders and fellow Muslims to speak out against human rights abuses committed by China in a speech on Thursday to Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama. The stop is part of a five-country trip through South and Southeast Asia that comes amid rising regional tensions between the U.S. and China.

“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,” Pompeo said. “The atheist CCP has tried to convince the world that its brutalization of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang is necessary as a counterterrorism or poverty alleviation effort, depending on the audience.”

Pompeo alleged that China forcibly sterilized Uighurs, forced them to eat pork during Ramadan, destroyed Muslim cemeteries and took Uighur children away from parents for re-education in government-run schools.

Chinese officials have deflected criticism of the country’s human rights record, saying policies in Xinjiang are matters of China’s own internal affairs.

“I know the CCP has tried to convince Indonesians to look away from the torments your fellow Muslims are suffering,” he said. “Look at the facts, listen to the survivors and their families.”

The top U.S. diplomat also criticized Myanmar’s “violent oppression” of Muslim Rohingyas, who fled in a mass exodus to Bangladesh and elsewhere by boat in Southeast Asia. Pompeo praised Indonesia for pushing for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to “live up to humanitarian ideals” on the issue, but said “progress on justice remains stalled.”

Pompeo also blasted Iran for persecution of Baha’is, Christians, Sunni Muslims and other religions.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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