Published By Bureau Reporter
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U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback speaks at the press briefing on “Promoting International Religious Freedom”, an initiative sidelining the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2019/Screengrab image

Dharamshala: U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback condemned China’s escalating, systematic and state-sanctioned suppression of religious freedom, calling it a “war on faith.”

“They are conducting a war on faith. It’s a war that they will not win,” Ambassador Brownback said earlier on Monday during a State Department briefing on “Promoting International Religious Freedom”, an initiative sidelining the UN General Assembly.

Brownback’s speech joins a growing tide of international condemnation of China’s ongoing egregious repression of religious groups including Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, Christians and Falun Gong practitioners.

China ranked second in the top ten “countries of particular concern” designated by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in April 2019. China has been designated as a “country of particular concern” since 1999.

The US ambassador at large also raised concerns over the growing repression and surveillance of Tibetan Buddhists as well as China’s Christian community and the Falun Gong practitioners.

“Unfortunately it’s not just the Uyghurs, it’s also the Tibetan Buddhists, which you’ve heard, its Falun Gong, the organ harvesting issue that China still would not come forth about, it’s house churches,” Brownback said.

A number of prominent dissidents also spoke at the press briefing, including Nyima Lhamo, human rights advocate and the niece of the late Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly revered reincarnate lama who died in a Chinese prison in July 2015, and Uyghur human rights advocate Jewher Ilham.

“One thing I have learned after coming to the West … is that suffering is not just our family alone or my community alone. Religious freedom is being violated all over the world,” said Nyima Lhamo. She was assisted by Bhuchung K Tsering from International Campaign for Tibet for interpretation.

Jewher Ilham, an Uyghur Muslim urged world governments to work together to allow all religious dissidents in China to practice their religion, or to speak the language they want to speak, dress the way they want to dress, eat the food they want to eat, behave the way they want to behave, freely.

Amb Brownback stressed that the U.S. administration has made protecting international religious freedom a top priority, noting that President Donald Trump earlier on Monday held the first-ever president-led event on religious freedom at the United Nations General Assembly.

Nyima Lhamo, human rights advocate and the niece of Tibetan political prisoner late Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, speaks at the press briefing at the US state department, accompanied by Bhuchung K Tsering, Vice-chair, ICT, 23 September 2019/Screengrab image


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