By / Jan 19

Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an official determination that the People’s Republic of China is “committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, for targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.” This announcement comes on Secretary Pompeo’s last day in office and a day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. According to Axios, the U.S. has become the first country to adopt these terms to describe the Chinese Communist Party’s unconscionable human rights abuses in its far northwest.

Some of the reasons cited for the determination include “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.” 

Secretary Pompeo stated that one of the key facts in his determination was the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to severely oppress Uyghur women with draconian birth control measures. Uyghur women are subjected to forced pregnancy checks, medication that stops their menstrual period, forced abortions, and surgical sterilizations. One of the major reasons that Uyghur women are sent to the internment camps is for having too many children. China’s goal, it seems, is to eradicate future generations of Uyghurs by manipulating who can and can’t bear children, and how many children a family can legally conceive. 

Why does this declaration of genocide against Uyghurs matter?

Since 2017, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has waged a systemic campaign of oppression and persecution against Uyghur Muslims, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group. The geographic scope of the CCP’s campaign against Uyghurs is global, but primarily restricted to Xinjiang, China’s western-most territory, where Uyghurs have lived for centuries. Under the guise of national security, the CCP is seeking to “pacify” the region with totalitarian tactics like pervasive surveillance, thought control, ideological reeducation, forced birth control, and compulsory labor. Once Chinese police detain a Uyghur for questioning, they are often sent away for “political reeducation.” China has constructed upward of 1,000 internment camps for this purpose. Estimates vary, but experts posit that China has detained between 1 million and 3 million Muslims in these facilities. Aside from political indoctrination, physical and psychological abuse is commonplace throughout these camps, ranging from rape and torture to malnourishment and forced organ harvesting

The CCP also uses these camps to break apart Uyghur families. In cases where Uyghur husbands are sent off to camps, China has sent ethnically Han men to rape, and forcibly procreate with, the wives who are left behind. In some cases, where both the mother and father are detained, the CCP has sent Uyghur children to government-run boarding schools where all communication with the outside world is strictly regulated.

Members of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China sent a bipartisan letter asking that the Administration make an official determination as to whether the Chinese government is responsible for perpetrating atrocity crimes, including genocide, against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim ethnic minorities. Additionally, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bipartisan resolution to designate human rights abuses perpetrated by the People’s Republic of China against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) as genocide. 

What is genocide?

The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The acts enumerated include:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

A genocide determination sends a powerful signal to the international community that the United States will not remain silent in the face of the CCP’s atrocities towards the Uyghur people.

What’s next after this declaration of genocide?

Secretary Pompeo called upon the People’s Republic of China “immediately to release all arbitrarily detained persons and abolish its system of internment, detention camps, house arrest and forced labor; cease coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced birth control, and the removal of children from their families; end all torture and abuse in places of detention; end the persecution of Uyghurs and other members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, and afford Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities the freedom to travel and emigrate.”

Additionally, he called on “all appropriate multilateral and relevant juridical bodies, to join the United States in our effort to promote accountability for those responsible for these atrocities.”

“The Chinese government’s atrocities against the Uyghur people in Xingjiang is clearly genocide. I welcome the State Department’s recognition of it as such. The world must not turn our eyes away from this genocide against human beings made in the image of God. I pray that President-elect Biden and Secretary-designate Blinken will have great success in rallying our nation and our allies to stand against this injustice. We can never again allow genocide to go unnoticed and unanswered. In addition, I urge the business community to take seriously what is happening to this imperiled religious minority.  Few issues these days seem to transcend our country’s partisan divisions, but this should be one of them,” Russell Moore stated.

How has the ERLC advocated for persecuted people?

In December, Dr. Moore sent Secretary Pompeo a letter urging him to issue a genocide determination. Additionally, the ERLC has been advocating for the Uyghur Forced Labor Act, which prohibits goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang region or by entities using Uyghur labor forcibly transferred from Xinjiang from entering the U.S. market. The ERLC hosted a high-level discussion on the Uyghur situation in China and shared ways pastors and Christians can get involved and help. The ERLC will continue working to counter China morally, and will continue to stand up for persecuted people.

By / Jul 25

Matt, Travis, and Steven discuss the latest from Capitol Hill including: rumors about the effort to defund Planned Parenthood; prayer for the persecuted church; State Department international religious freedom policy); and the role out of the Democrat’s new populist branding.

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By / Mar 4

Over the last few years we have heard so much disturbing news regarding Christian persecution. Unfortunately my husband, Saeed Abedini, continues to be part of that news as he suffers for the third consecutive year in the notorious Iranian prison because of his Christian faith.

I have traveled the world and spoken in front of the United Nations, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, the European Parliament, the Dutch Parliament and our own Congress. I have spoken multiple times before media (such as Fox News and CNN) and before hundreds of churches. I have spent every waking hour thinking of what the next step is that I should take in order to free my husband from one more day in that horrible prison.

Fasting for Saeed’s release

Recently, I was reminded of biblical examples of what servants of God did when they heard bad and disheartening news. What was the very first thing Nehemiah did? Or Esther? Or Daniel?

They prayed and fasted. They went to the one source that they knew held the world, governments and king’s hearts in his hands. They went before the King of kings.

On January 6, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, I started a 21-day fast (from pleasurable food based on Daniel 10), praying for a breakthrough. I asked my friends to join me on this journey. Every time that I would start praying about Saeed and my needs, the Lord would whisper for me to draw close to him and that he would take care of the rest (Matt. 6:33).  

The Lord’s amazing answer

Two weeks into the fast I heard that President Obama was coming to Boise. Why would the president come to Boise, Idaho, of all places, especially one day after his State of the Union address? Again, I asked my friends to join me in fasting from all food for three days (as Esther did) that the Lord would grant me to have a meeting with the president on his very short visit to Boise. On day three of the “Esther” fast, I got a call from the White House that my request of meeting with the president was granted.

After two and a half years of trying to meet with the president and having had traveled multiple times to Washington, D.C., with the hopes of meeting with the president, the Lord brought him to me. My meeting with President Obama was above and beyond my expectations, and I shared with him that it was through united prayer and fasting that that the Lord set up that meeting.

Soon after that meeting, there was a lot of movement and many calls with the State Department. A meeting was set with the Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom for February 27. The Lord opened the door and has given me the platform I’ve prayed for in speaking out about Saeed’s imprisonment and for thousands of Christians who are persecuted across the globe.

Taking the first step

Over the last few weeks I have thought about the meeting with President Obama often and how encouraging it was to see God’s hand in arranging the meeting. I have wondered how many times we try everything before we decide to spend time in prayer. How much time have we spent worrying about circumstances around us instead of spending time laying prostrate before the Lord and interceding for our persecuted brothers and sisters, for our leaders, for our country? The first step is always prayer. Then, the Lord opens doors for us to step into in ministering to our persecuted brothers and sisters and in reaching the lost world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.