“The right to believe or not believe is the most fundamental of freedoms,” declared Vice President Mike Pence at the recently concluded Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
Today, a stunning 83 percent of the world’s population live in nations where religious freedom is either threatened or even banned.
In China, noted Vice President Pence, “religious persecution is growing in both scope and scale. The State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom report has labeled China as a religious freedom violator every year since 1999. Together with other religious minorities, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians are often under attack.”
Vice President Pence said that the Chinese government has repressed the Tibetan people for decades simply for trying to practice their religion and protect their culture.
Vice President Pence also noted that “Beijing is holding hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uyghur Muslims in so-called ‘re-education camps,’ where they’re forced to endure around-the-clock political indoctrination and to denounce their religious beliefs and their cultural identity as the goal.”
But for all of China’s abuses, their neighbor in North Korea is much worse, declared Vice President Pence. “While we all hope that relations between the United States and North Korea continue to improve, and we certainly hope that the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic weapons program can be eliminated, there is no escaping the plain fact that North Korea’s leadership has exacted unparalleled privation and cruelty upon its people for decades.”
Torture, mass starvation, public executions, murders, forced abortions, and industrial-scale slave labor have been the means by which that regime has retained hold on its power for more than 70 years. Today, an estimated 130,000 North Koreans are imprisoned for life in brutal slave labor camps.
“North Korea’s persecution of Christians has no rival on the Earth,” declared Mr. Pence. “The mere possession of a Christian Bible is a capital offense. And those identified by the regime as Christians are regularly executed or condemned with their families to North Korea’s gulags.”
“The United States stands for religious freedom yesterday, today and always,” affirmed Vice President Pence. That’s why the U.S. will continue to stand with the people of China and North Korea as they seek to exercise this most fundamental right.