Pope Francis says for first time that China's Uighurs are 'persecuted'

In a new book, Pope Francis for the first time callsChina’s Uighurs a “persecuted” people, something human rights activists have been urging him to do for years.

In the wide-ranging “Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future,” Francis also says the COVID-19 pandemic should spur governments to consider permanently establishing a universal basic income.

In the book, a 150-page collaboration with his English-language biographer Austen Ivereigh, Francis speaks of economic, social and political changes he says are needed to address inequalities after the pandemic ends. It goes on sale on Dec. 1.

He also says people who see wearing masks as an imposition by the state are “victims only in their imagination” and praises those who protested against the killing of George Floyd in police custody for rallying around the “healthy indignation” that united them.

“I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi,” he said in a section where he also talks about persecuted Christians in Islamic countries.

While the pope has spoken out before about the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar, and the killing of Yazidi by Islamic State in Iraq, it was the first time he mentioned the Uighurs.

Faith leaders, activist groups and governments have said crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against the predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in China’s remote Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million people are held in camps.

During a conference at the Vatican last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted China over its treatment of Uighurs.

Some commentators have said the Vatican was reluctant to speak out on the Uighurs earlier because it was in the process of renewing a controversial accord with Beijing on the appointment of bishops.

The accord, which Pompeo urged the Vatican to abandon, was renewed in September.

Beijing has rejected the allegations as an attempt to discredit China, saying the camps are vocational education and training centres as part of counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures.

source: nbcnews.com

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