TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a new book to be released next month, Pope Francis acknowledges Uyghur Muslims in China's Xinjiang region as "persecuted people" for the first time.
In the book titled "Let Us Dream: the Path to a Better Future," the head of the Catholic Church offers his vision of a post-pandemic world in which racial injustices and economic inequalities would slowly evaporate. He also covers topics such as religious persecution and the coronavirus pandemic.
In a section where he addresses the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries, the Pope also talks about human rights violations committed against the Rohingya, the Yazidi, and the "poor Uyghurs." He added that he often thinks of these "persecuted peoples."
This marks the first time Pope Francis has openly acknowledged Beijing's ill-treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, something he has been criticized for not doing. Global human rights activists have long criticized his silence on the topic, including many who suspect that he did not want to offend the Chinese authorities, according to CNA.
During his Angelus address in July, the Pope also allegedly omitted a pre-written reflection on the introduction of the Hong Kong national security law and a plea for religious freedom in the special administrative region. Some international media have interpreted the decision as a result of political pressure from the Chinese government.
Meanwhile, religious and political leaders around the world have demanded Beijing to stop its abuses against minorities in China, including separating Uyghur children from their parents and placing them in detention camps. Although Beijing has brushed off the accusations by labeling the camps as education centers, reports have suggested that the regime is attempting to erase Muslim values and the beliefs of Uyghurs.