Secretary of State Pompeo delivers remarks on religious freedom – 06/21/2019

Secretary of State Pompeo delivers remarks on religious freedom – 06/21/2019



good afternoon everyone I'm proud to be here today to speak about the state department's ongoing mission to advance International Religious Freedom this mission is not just a trump administration priority it's a deeply personal one for many years I was a Sunday school teacher and a deacon at my church and that might sound unusual to a lot of folks inside the beltway but I'm one of millions of Americans and billions of people across the world who live in a knowledge of a higher power I offered humbly reflect on how God's proud has guided me to this office to defend this cause I think about how as an american i've been blessed to enjoy the unfettered exercise of religious freedom our first Liberty here in the United States but at much of the world governments and groups deny individuals that same inalienable right people are persecuted handcuffed thrown in jail even killed for their decision to believe or not to believe for washing worshiping according to their conscience for teaching the children about their faith for speaking about their beliefs in public for gathering in private as so many us have done to study the Bible the Torah or the Quran go into any mosque any church any temple in America and you'll hear the same thing Americans believe that kind of intolerance is deeply wrong that's why the Trump administration is promoted religious freedom like never before in our foreign policy agenda given our own great freedoms it's a distinctly American responsibility stand up for faith in every nation's public square so today I'm pleased to announce that here at the State Department we're elevating the Office of International Religious Freedom along with the office of the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism within our organization effective immediately each of these two offices will report directly to the Under Secretary for civilian security democracy and human rights Sam Brownback the ambassador-at-large for religious freedom will continue to report directly to me this reorganization will provide these offices with additional staff and resources and enhance partnerships both within our agency within our agency and without it will empower them to better carry out their important mandates second I'm pleased to announce the religious of the release of the religious international registry to report for 2018 it's like a report card it tracks countries to see how well they've respected this fundamental human right I'll start with the good news in Uzbekistan much work still remains to be done but for the first time in 13 years it's no longer designated as a country of particular concern this past year the government passed a religious freedom roadmap 1,500 religious prisoners have been freed and 16,000 people that were blacklisted for their religious affiliations are now allowed to travel we look forward to seeing legal reforms to registration requirements so more groups may worship freely and so children may pray at mosques with their parents in Pakistan the Supreme Court acquitted Asha Bibi a Catholic of blasphemy sparing her the death penalty after she spent nearly a decade in prison however more than 40 others remained jailed for life or face execution on that very same charge would continue to call for their release and encourage the government to appoint an envoy to address the various religious freedom concerns and in Turkey at president Trump's urging they released pastor Andrew Brunson who had been wrongfully in prison on account of his faith will continue to seek the release of our locally employed staff there in addition we urged the immediate reopening of the hawky seminary near Istanbul look we welcome all of these glimmers of progress but demand much more 2018 unfortunately was far from perfect as in previous years our report exposes a chilling array of abuses committed by oppressive regimes violent extremist groups and individual citizens for all those that run roughshod over religious freedom I'll say this the United States is watching and you will be held to account in Iran the regime's crackdown on the Baha'is Christians and others continues to shock the conscience in Russia witnesses were absurdly and importantly branded as terrorists as authorities confiscated their property and then threatened their families in Burma Burma rahega Muslims continue to face violence at the hands of the military hundreds of thousands have fled had been forced to live in overcrowded refugee camps and in China the government's intense persecution of many-faced Falun Gong petitioners Christians and Tibetan Buddhists among them is the norm the Chinese Communist Party's exhibit extremis tell it to all religious faiths since its founding that party demands the it alone be called God I had a chance to meet with some wingers here but unfortunately the most Chinese wiggers don't get a chance to tell their stories that's why in an effort to document the staggering scope of religious freedom abuses in Jian Jiang we've added a special section to this year's China report history will not be silent about these abuses but only a voices of Liberty like ours recorded finally I'll just mention one more reason this report matters so much it will inspire conversations leading up to our second annual ministerial to advance religious freedom that I'll be hosting here in mid-july this year we'll welcome up to 1,000 individuals who will renew their zeal for the mission of religious freedom and I'm proud to be one of them I'm crossing the days off my calendar waiting for this last year was the first time in history that there had been such a foreign ministerial level conference and they were on religious freedom we brought together representatives and activists and religious leaders unfortunately every corner of the world it was truly a stunning show of unity people of all faiths standing up for the most basic of all human rights it was so successful that I immediately committed to hosting in the next year on the very day look the good work that was done didn't stop at the end of that conference both the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan demonstrated impressive leadership by hosting follow-on conferences and the International Religious Freedom Fund which we launched to support victims of persecution and give groups the tools to respond has already received millions of dollars I'm looking forward to this year's ministerial being inspiring and I know that it will be and I'll now turn it over to my friend and arm three large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback to take your questions thank you all Thank You secretary Pompeo appreciate that also like to thank the president president Ramzan vice president pence their strong leadership and driving the religious freedom agenda forward I consider it a great honor to serve in this role and at a critical time for our nation in world's history fight against religious freedom is mounting others report that eighty percent of people live in places where religious freedom is under attack yet most of the world organizes their live around a set of religious beliefs they must be free to do so the Trump administration has done exactly what it promised to do about making religious freedom a top foreign policy priority and it is we've jumped off the sidelines to fight for people of all faiths this is because we believe there is no more important a time for the United States to promote religious freedom then now we will not stop until we see the iron curtain of religious persecution come down until governments no longer detain and torture people for simply being of a particular faith or associated with it until people are no longer charged and prosecuted on specious charges of blasphemy until the world no longer believes it can get away with persecuting anyone of any faith without consequences we will not stop I lead an incredible office of people who relentlessly work to advance religious freedom around the globe today's rollout of the 2018 report on International Religious Freedom was made possible by them and I'd like to specifically highlight Bob Boehm who heads up our report team as well as all of our editors and numerous State Department officers and personnel and embassies and consulates around the world who diligently prepared these comprehensive reports every day of the past year and a half and I've been on this job I've been grateful for team and their commitment to this work we've been working with foreign governments to help them organize their own conferences to encourage a regional and context specific look at religious freedom we've increased our engagement with the NGO community expanding a religious freedom roundtable on Capitol Hill which I co-host every Tuesday that I'm in town we've supported religious freedom roundtables starting up in other countries around the world a grassroots movement for religious freedom is beginning to take hold around the world we're seeing the fruit of our labor President Trump led a government-wide effort to secure the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson Pakistan released Asia Bibi after their Supreme Court upheld her acquittal of blasphemy charges and as Secretary Pompeo said Uzbekistan for the first time since 2006 is no longer a country of particular concern but the religious freedom central to our experience at home is still encroached upon in many areas of the world as our 2018 report shows for example Iran as one of the worst records on religious freedom in the world and continues to show a blatant disregard for protecting individuals religious freedom countless members of Iranian religious minorities including behind Jews or astronauts and Sunni and Sufi Muslims face discrimination harassment and unjust imprisonment because of their beliefs their religious books are banned they are denied access to education their cemeteries are desecrated blasphemy and proselytization of Muslims is punishable by death last year the Iranian regime violently cracked down on the peaceful protest of a Gadhafi sufi dervishes and what Human Rights Watch called one of the largest crackdowns against a religious mourning minority in Iran in a decade to Iran we say we are watching and we will stand up for all those whose right to religious freedom is infringed upon China has declared war on faith we've seen increasing Chinese government abuse of believers have nearly all face and from all parts of the mainland in Shenzhen China has detained more than a million ethnic Muslims and camps that are designed to strip away the culture identity and faith of these religious communities we share reports again that others make the Chinese authorities have subjected prisoners of conscience including Falun Gong we Gers Tibetan Buddhist and underground Christians to forcible organ harvesting this should shock everyone's conscience China also continues to interfere in Tibetan Buddhist practices and Tibetan culture including by interfering in the selection education of veneration of Tibetan Buddhist Lamas they've increased their 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 in Eritrea authorities continued to confine Eritrean Orthodox Church patriarch antonio's who has been under house arrest since 2006 he along with hundreds of other prisoners of conscience should be free in Turkey the government president air Dewan continues to keep the Halki seminary closed but calling them to let it be reopened in a Nicaragua religious leaders report constant surveillance intimidation and threats the national police assault priest in full daylight revealing the government's contempt for any religious leaders they view as a threat to their authority the United States cannot secure religious freedom alone we need everyone's help everyone has a stake in the fight that's why this year's second ministerial to advance religious freedom is more important than ever we expect this year's event to be bigger broader and better than last year's ground baking event the continuing and complex challenges to religious freedom demand an even greater stage with more stakeholders working together to identify solutions the ministry will also provide a platform to amplify the voices of survivors of religious persecution these from around the world whose stories will demonstrate the unrelenting power of faith our work is still cut out for us we must move religious freedom forward around the world we look forward to working with other governments and our partners in civil society in the religious community to do just that thank you very much for joining us today and I'm glad we could present this report to you what is the status report in South Africa with the Christians the white genocide that's going on there are you actively involved in that area the report covers every country outside of the United States so the South African piece is reported upon and what we do in the report is we report of what's taking place so that's there and you can go to the report online and look it up and see what's there Pakistan Pakistan us attacks its religious minority for many many years what pressure can the United States use to ensure that Pakistan stopped their religious attacks no we puts back Pakistan on a special watch list this year this past year for the first time the report we're putting out today then we will make other determinations off of this report but we put them on the special watch list I visited to them went to Pakistan earlier this year we were in frequent contact with them I've met with embassy officials to cite the issues that are going on in Pakistan unfortunately there's been a lot of harm to various religious communities that have taken place in Pakistan it's a it's a country I've worked with often in the past and it's my hope we're going to start to see some progress knocks teams of my staff is here has been there recently as well we hope to to some some really I would hope some key negotiations with Pakistan to try to move them forward on protecting their religious minorities because of all things noted in our report in other other places so we've got a keen eye focused on them and and hope to work with them and to get them off the special watch list but they're gonna have to take actions themselves in the u.s. final destination of human rights and freedom well North Korea is horrible on human rights and religious freedom they've been a country of particular concern for years they have a number of individuals that as you noted are in a gulag system we had a lady last year testify at the ministerial and I would probably will have somebody again this year that had escaped out of North Korea but this was her second escape the first time she was caught and returned and went into one of the the camps and her crime was having a Bible it's really a deplorable situation that's taking place we're going to continue to exert strong pressure with these factors that I've noted to you are noted in our report unless they change radically they'll continue to be a country of particular concern for us these carry sanctions with them as well and we'll use those in North Korea and other places that are particularly egregious cases of religious freedom violations it's nearly two years now since the Rohingya genocide began in more and the administration's policy so far has been to try to work with the civilian half of the government but still that hasn't worked and and conditions remain unsafe for refugees to return access to northern makind state has never been granted to the UN or other organizations at what point do you say that the policy has failed well I myself have been to the refugee camps in Bangladesh I meet with RO hanga activists frequently we continue to advocate for aid for the people in those camps obviously the prior secretary had designated at ethnic cleansing taking place as the secretary Tillerson had established that previously I think more needs to be done and more pressure needs to be put to allow the rahaga to have be able to return safely our policy is that they be allowed to return safely and be able to live securely in Myanmar and that's that is the u.s. policy position I think we have to continue to be aggressive in pushing that forward there's a number of bills working their way through Congress and Congress has been vocal on this issue as well it's I think it's something we have to continue to press on and it's it's an issue in our space and that most of the Rohan go are Muslims and it's just really no doubt in my mind that if they if they were of the dominant faith in the country they wouldn't be run out of the country but that this has been going on for decades in one iteration or another but this one has been the the strongest and largest by them the military in Myanmar of what they're doing in this case when you say more pressure does that include sanctions we've done some of that as you know already there have been a couple of generals and military units that have put on been put under global Magnitsky sanctions and I think you're gonna I will will see if no positive action is taking place as you know we haven't seen positive action we do support what the UN is doing in Burma and dealing with the RO hanga but I think the world community has to continue to take note of this and see what it's going to take to actually get something positive to take place so secretary Camp you mention that these years before has a special session I've seen young leaders do you support do you have a position on restriction restricting foreign video surveillance companies ability to buy American technology so that the security cameras will not be used against religious minorities such as the wicker sleaze in China and separately in March you mentioned Taiwan has announced its ambassador enlarged for international religious your counterpart do you support Taiwan's ambassador to come to participate in this year's ministerial thank you the we invited to I want to participate last year in the ministerial and we would love to have him again this year I attended the religious freedom summit that they had in Taiwan earlier this year and they did an excellent job of hosting civil society groups from around primarily from around Asia on religious freedom so I would welcome their participation in the ministerial we will have two sections of the ministerial there's a civil society religious freedom section there will be the first two day two days and then the foreign ministers will be invited in on the last day the Thursday July 18th will take place so but we'd love to have their participation the u.s. has China is a country of particular concern on religious freedom and we have sanctions that are associated with this part of it is criminal surveillance equipment that's already in that list of sanctioned products I know Congress is looking at a broader cross-section of equipment issues but we already have them as a CPC country and that's already one of the sanctions under another legal setting another set of laws but one that we fully support as part of what that what they are doing to the religious community and cynjohn and across the country as I noted in my report my statement it used to be in China on religious persecution it was a bit more episodic and it was more regional but now this these are national policies that are being taken place and religious regulations have been taken over by the Communist Party instead of by the government which may seem like a difference without a distinction but it turns out it's quite different and that's that's what's happening in China today unfortunately in April there are mass executions and we have 37 people is unfortunately from the Shia minority some reportedly crucified what's your assessment of how things are going in Saudi Arabia the trajectory protecting minority rights particularly of the minorities it's something that the United States as it will be well it's something that I certainly raised they are again a country a particular concern you can go on our report and those things are cited to the executions that took place are cited in our report and we will continue to raise these issues with Saudi Arabia I think there was a lot of hope at first with the change of leadership that things would open up substantially we need to see actions take place in a positive direction but they they continue to be one of the worst actors in the world on religious persecution yes I'm sorry that was that was mine thanks everybody 90 days after the report is what this statute requires

13 thoughts on “Secretary of State Pompeo delivers remarks on religious freedom – 06/21/2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *