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Mike Pompeo Religious Freedom Speech During his Visit to Indonesia

Mike Pompeo in Indonesia - credit: U.S. Embassy Jakarta
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US Embassy in Indonesia

Remarks by Secretary Pompeo on Unalienable Rights and Traditions of Tolerance

During his visit to Indonesia, Us Secretary of State Mike Pompeo respond to welcomed speech by Indonesian Secretary General Staquf. He emphasised the need for freedom of religion and accuse China concerning the persecution, notably of the Uyghurs Muslim in Xnijiang.

Mike Pompeo: A warm hello to the people of Indonesia.  From the beaches of Bali to the volcanoes of Sumatra, this is truly an extraordinary nation.

For now, of course, we’re all focused on beating the virus that was born in Wuhan.

And before I begin, I want to express my condolences to all the Indonesians who have lost their lives or suffered economic hardship as a result of that virus.

Concerning freedom of religion in the US and in Indonesia, Pompeo mentioned: “And that’s what I want to talk about today.  That’s my message.

I’m here – I’m here in Indonesia because I believe that Indonesia shows us the way forward.  There is literally no reason that Islam can’t co-exist peacefully alongside Christianity or Buddhism.  And I know – I know this is something that is sometimes hard to grasp for those few who twist Islamic teachings to justify violence in the name of this faith.

Indonesians and Americans know that this is wrong.  We know that peaceful co-existence and mutual respect is possible.

Indeed, Indonesia’s national motto, translated into English, is, “Unity Amid Diversity.”  Now that’s not so different from America’s which is: “Out of many, one.”  If you think about them, they have much in common, much that overlaps.”

Concerning the persecution of religious followers, Pompeo continued,

“As the Secretary of State, I’ve had the incredible privilege to see what happens when Indonesia leads.  From our work together in ASEAN, the G20, the Security Council, I know that Indonesia has an incredible reach and potential as a force for good in the region and indeed throughout the entire world.
The Burmese military’s violent oppression of Rohingya and other minorities is one area where Indonesia has pushed ASEAN to live up to the humanitarian ideals, but where progress on justice remains stalled.

Likewise, today, the Iranian regime’s persecution of Baha’is, Christians, Sunni Muslims, and other minority groups has failed to galvanize a proper denunciation from that country’s diplomatic partners or the religious leaders in many Muslim-majority countries.

But in fact, 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 alike.

The atheist Chinese Communist Party has tried to convince the world that its brutalization of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang is necessary as a part of its counterterrorism efforts or poverty alleviation, depending on which audience that they are speaking to.

But you know – you know; we know – we know that there is no counterterrorism justification for forcing Uyghur Muslims to eat pork during Ramadan or destroying a Muslim cemetery.

There is no poverty-alleviation justification for forced sterilizations or taking children away from their parents to be re-educated in state-run boarding schools.

I know that the Chinese Communist Party has tried to convince Indonesians to look away, to look away from the torments your fellow Muslims are suffering.

I know that these same CCP officials have spun fantastic tales of happy Uyghurs eager to discard their ethnic, religious, and cultural identities to become more “modern” and enjoy the benefits of CCP-led development.

When you hear these arguments, I’d just ask you to do this: search your hearts.  Look at the facts.  Listen to the tales of the survivors and of their families.

Think about what you know of how authoritarian governments treat those who resist its rule.

There are now dozens – maybe hundreds – of credible academic and research reports documenting what is taking place in Xinjiang.

I personally had the chance to hear the stories of that immense human suffering first-hand when I met in Kazakhstan with relatives

of ethnic Kazakhs that had been held in camps in western China.  Their tears filled my heart – first with anger and then with resolve.

That meeting underscored to me how precious God-given freedoms are and the responsibility that each of us has to defend them.  And indeed, my faith teaches me the same thing:

It teaches me that human beings have a basic dignity because they are made in God’s image, and that as people of faith we have an obligation to honor that truth by protecting the weak and comforting the afflicted.

My holy book teaches me that “faith without works is dead.”

It teaches me that of those to whom much is given, much is expected.

I’m sure you know the ways that the Islamic tradition – and the Indonesian tradition – demand that we speak out and work for justice.

Look, I know you’ll do that.  I’m excited to have a very robust discussion with the General Secretary on all of these ideas, so I’ll stop here.

And I want to remind you that democracies all have very different cultural heritages, but in spite of that we have tremendous amount in common.  All of our countries have struggled with crises, with injustice, and threats – both internal and external – but we continue working towards that more perfect union.”

At the end, Pompeo share additional thoughts: “But two other thoughts:  One, this struggle for the protection of these rights is forever a process, and so as you make steps along the way, and as Indonesia does and other countries in the region that you’re urging join in this way, don’t ever back off.  Stay strong.  Continue to talk about this.  Continue to build on the things that you have done, because the risk of backsliding is very real.  Authoritarian regimes can pop up in places that no one would expect them, and it – as I said in my remarks, it is the people of these nations, the demanding that these governments secure their rights, that will ultimately lead.  And that’s what these organizations do.  They’re people banding together to demand that nations respect these fundamental human rights that each of us is entitled to.

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