(This article originally appeared on the Faith&Chelsen blog on Patheos on April 9, and is reprinted with permission.
On Friday, April 5, I spoke at a rally organized by the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM) in front of The White House.
ETNAM describes itself as “a nonviolent international political and human rights organization that seeks to restore the independence of East Turkistan in order to safeguard the freedoms and human rights of East Turkistan’s people.” And if you don’t think that “safeguarding the freedoms and human rights of East Turkistan’s people is necessary, you haven’t been paying attention to what the People’s Republic of China, aka the Chinese Communist Party, is doing.
“We strive to uphold the national interests of the Uyghur nation, and all other peoples of East Turkistan (Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tatars, & others), both within East Turkistan and abroad,” ETNAM continues. “Democracy, Human Rights, and Independence for East Turkistan and its people are our objectives, and our main goal is to establish unity, democratic values, and compassion among our people, so that we can restore our Republic of East Turkistan in accordance with international laws.”
The rally at The White House took place while trade talks took place with a delegation from China. It was also the 29th anniversary of a particularly horrific time, when the Chinese military stormed the East Turkistan village of Baren and committed a massacre against the men and women resisting the forced abortion being imposed by the Chinese government. In 2009 Radio Free Asia revealed that population control policies in East Turkistan alone (consider the effect of the One Child Policy on all of China!) had prevented the births of over 3.7 million babies in the past 30 years.
As my friend pro-life and vulnerable people advocate Jason Jones who also spoke at the rally has said, “The lesson of the Baren Massacre? If any nation would forcibly kill large groups of defenseless people in the womb it will also, sooner or later, go on to kill them outside the womb.” Today, Chinese authorities have imprisoned over one million Uyghur in concentration camps and another two million or more in re-education camps. The list of groups whose human rights have been violated by the Chinese regime is extremely long and includes Christians, Muslims, Tibetans, Falun Gong, democracy activists, North Korean escapees, and unborn babies, to name a few.
Gathering on a chilly, damp afternoon, with Turkic people holding both American flags and the flag of East Turkistan, it was the first time that I have seen a fusion of human rights/religious freedom activists with pro-life activists. The pro-life community was represented by such groups as Students for Life, New Wave Feminists, and Love from Above. As the rally began, Salih Hudayar, the young founder of ETNAM, played recordings of both the U.S. National Anthem and the East Turkistan National Anthem.
Here is my speech:
I am honored to be here today with many wonderful people and organizations that care about the persecuted and vulnerable. Thank you for allowing me to express my solidarity. The Institute on Religion and Democracy, or IRD, is committed to work for freedom from the oppressive, genocidal Chinese Communist regime for all people.
While a Chinese trade delegation attempts a trade deal inside The White House, we are here outside The White House as a witness to the truth about the Chinese Communist Party. And because of that truth, we urge the Trump Administration to halt trade talks until the CCP government halts its violations of human rights. We also ask the United States and other nations to impose strong sanctions, including the Global Magnitsky Act, against officials responsible for egregious actions towards the people of East Turkistan and elsewhere.
The CCP regime is an equal opportunity human rights violator. In 25 years of advocacy, I have heard many heartbreaking stories of the regime’s brutal persecution of the people of East Turkistan and Tibet, of Christians and Uyghur Muslims, of pro-democracy activists and Falun Gong practitioners, of women and children – particularly unborn children, and of North Koreans who flee across the border to China.
In 2007 my then ten year old daughter and I attended the Shen Yun Chinese New Year Global Gala. In one ballet a mother who is a Falun Gong practitioner is beaten and taken away from her child by soldiers. My daughter turned to me in tears and asked, “Mommy, do they really take mothers from their children?” As much as I hated to add to her sorrow, I had to tell her yes. But as you well know, the CCP regime does not just take mothers from their children,they take children from their mothers – literally ripping them from the wombs of their mothers.
China’s draconian population control through its One Child Policy, forced abortions, and forced sterilizations are so brutally enforced that no resistance is tolerated. Today we observe and mourn the deaths of not only all of the babies murdered by the regime, but on this 29th anniversary, the murder of thousands of men and women in the East Turkistan Baren township that resisted the regime taking their babies.
That massacre foreshadowed what was to come. Today the regime is imprisoning an estimated million or more Uyghur citizens in concentration camps known as “counter-extremism centers.” They are holding another two million in euphemistically named “re-education centers.”
These are the same camps where Christian house church leaders and members, underground Catholic priests, and others considered enemies of the State are imprisoned, sometimes for decades as their churches are bulldozed and closed. We have already heard reports that the CCP regime is complicit in the horrific harvesting of organs of Uyghur, Falun Gong, Christian, and other prisoners. And just yesterday I heard another extremely disturbing report that the camps are being outfitted with crematoria – calling to mind the horrific ovens of the Nazis.
In addition, Chinese communists, like the North Korean regime and former Soviet Union, are paying their citizens to betray each other. Snitches receive so much for exposing a prayer meeting, so much for proving associations with foreign missionaries. What a way to not only ensure the capture of those you desire, but to implement the moral degradation of your citizens as they become bounty hunters of their fellow human beings!
China was complicit in another genocide as well! In the early 2000’s, the Chinese National Petroleum Company under the alias “Petrochina” helped the National Islamic Front regime of Sudan to commit genocide against the black, African people groups of southern Sudan to clear the land of unwanted people and make way for oil development. Today the CCP regime is swallowing Africa: offering African nations money, paying bribes, providing financing at an outrageous interest, and signing contracts that they have no intention of respecting.
The great Russian human rights hero Natan Sharansky revealed to the world that when the policy of appeasement stopped, the days of the Soviet Union were numbered. IRD urges the United States government to fully reject appeasement. Appeasement enables murderous CCP thugs to harass, arrest, imprison, persecute, torture, and kill. Appeasement enables the Chinese government to defy universal human rights covenants, to practice forced abortion, and to forcibly repatriate desperate North Korean escapees to almost certain death.
IRD is particularly grateful for U.S. government voices like those of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and members of Congress that have fought against persecution in China. We urge the Trump Administration and Congress to continue, and to always link human rights with trade, security, and every other relationship we have with the CCP regime.
Finally, I cannot end without calling out those who put dollars above humanity, the lobbyists for the Chinese Communist Party regime! Do not let the international law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs off the hook. The partners and attorneys of Squire Patton Boggs, some of whom are former members of Congress, should be ashamed of themselves for taking as clients regimes that commit genocide. And they should be put to shame by those of us here, and by all those who care about human rights in East Turkistan and China.
The Institute on Religion and Democracy will continue to do everything in our power to call attention to the Chinese regime’s persecution of men, women, children, and unborn babies, and to condemn appeasement with the persecutors.