20 July 2019   Leave a comment

The US State Department has launched a new initiative on religious freedom and persecution. It appears to be a part of a larger initiative on human rights which US Secretary of State Pompeo called the Commission on Unalienable Rights. It’s objective, according to Pompeo is to “provide the intellectual grist of what I hope will be one of the most profound re-examinations of inalienable rights in the world since the 1948 Universal Declaration.” The Commission is headed by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law School professor, who, at the 1995 U.N. World Conference on Women in Beijing, succeeded in preventing abortion to be listed as a human right.

But there appears to be a fundamental lack of knowledge about these issues in the Trump Administration. US President Trump hosted some victims of religious persecution at the White House and the conversations were astonishing. Zeeshan Aleem recounts some of the conversations for Vox:

” Mohib Ullah, a Rohingya man who had escaped violence in Myanmar, explained that he was staying in a refugee camp in neighboring Bangladesh and asked the president what his plans are to help his beleaguered people. Trump replied by asking, “And where is that, exactly? Where?”

“It was unclear if Trump was referring to the country that Ullah had fled or was staying in, but Ullah repeated that he was staying in Bangladesh, and Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, attempted to intervene by explaining that Bangladesh is ‘next to Burma [an older term for Myanmar]’ and that ‘the Rohingya have been run out.’

“The president replied, ‘Thank you, appreciate it,’ and moved on without ever answering Ullah’s question….

“Trump also seemed almost entirely unacquainted with the oppression of Uighurs, China’s predominantly Muslim minority.

‘When Jewher Ilham, a Uighur woman, said that millions of her people have been locked up in ‘concentration camps’ and that she hadn’t seen her detained father since 2013, Trump again replied as if he was hearing about the crisis for the first time.

“’Where is that? Where is that in China?’ he asked….

“The president also had an awkward exchange with Nadia Murad, a Yazidi refugee from Iraq who escaped captivity by ISIS. Trump again did not appear to pay close attention to her testimony, asking Murad where her family members were right after she’d told the president they had been killed.”

It is difficult to see how anything substantive can come out of a Commission that lacks informed leadership.

Posted July 20, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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