By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern Wednesday about ongoing beheadings and other abuses of Christians and other faith groups in several nations.
Pompeo talked at the presentation of the U.S. State Department's annual Report on International Religious Freedom. As an example, he mentioned Nigeria, where the investigators discovered that the terror group Islamic State, or ISIS, and Boko Haram militants "continue to attack Muslims and Christians" alike. "ISIS beheaded 10 Christians in that country just this past December."
Pompeo also mentioned the "Nicaraguan government" that he stressed, "harasses and intimidates religious leaders and worshipers and desecrates religious spaces, often using proxies."
And in China, he said, "state-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify. The Chinese Communist Party is now ordering religious organizations to obey CCP leadership and infuse communist dogma into their teachings and practice of their faith. The mass detentions of Uighurs in Xinjiang continues.
So does the repression of Tibetans and Buddhists and Falun Gong and Christians."
China has denied wrongdoing and said the United States should first tackle its issues such as the recent killing of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who recently died in police custody.
TIANANMEN SQUARE MASSACRE
Speaking about China, Pompeo said he was "humbled and honored to meet with several survivors of the Chinese Communist Party's massacre at Tiananmen Square that happened 31 years ago."
As many as 10,000 people were killed when Chinese forces broke up the pro-democracy protests at the famed square in Beijing in 1989, according to leaked secret British diplomatic cables. China claims some 200 civilians and several dozen security personnel died in the suppression of "counter-revolutionary riots" on June 4, 1989.
Pompeo said his State Department's religious report also highlights "a few positive developments" observed in this past year. "The United Arab Emirates, long an ally for religious freedom in the Middle East, has become the first country in the Middle East to permit the construction of a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," he noted.
In the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, "steps have been taken to improve its record on religious freedom, and those steps continue," Pompeo said. He added that he spoke with religious leaders in the country. "For the first time in eight years, the government registered a church, Svet Miru, run by a Presbyterian religious community in Chirchick, near Tashkent," the capital, Pompeo explained.
He also said that the report "documented no police raids of unregistered religious group meetings during 2019," compared with 114 such raids in 2018, and 240 – 240 the year before that. "These are great strides, real progress, the efforts of our State Department team showing or bearing fruit."
FREEDOM ALLIANCE LAUNCHED
Pompeo also said that in Africa, "The Gambia, an International [Religious] Freedom Alliance member, has courageously brought a case before the International Court of Justice regarding crimes against the Rohingya" community.
The stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group predominantly follow Islam and reside mainly in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, also known as Burma.
But Pompeo cautioned that the abuses underscore that "there's also great darkness over parts of the world. Where people of faith are persecuted or denied the right to worship."
He spoke after U.S. President Donald Trump signed last week the first-ever executive order instructing the entire U.S. Government to prioritize religious freedom.
Trump's religious agenda had already an impact on public servants, Pompeo revealed. "Here at the State Department, I've hosted the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom now twice. We've launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance. We've trained our Foreign Service officers to understand religious freedom issues much more deeply."