Posts tagged ‘Human Rights’

The Desperate Plight of the Uighur Muslims

In a story that, in my opinion, has gone disturbingly under-reported, the United Kingdom has leveled shocking allegations against the Chinese government of serious human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims living in that country. The BBC reports:

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused China of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against its Uighur population… 

Reports of forced sterilization and wider persecution of the Muslim group were “reminiscent of something not seen for a long time,” he told the BBC…

China’s UK ambassador said talk of concentration camps was “fake.” 

Liu Xiaoming told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that the Uighurs received the same treatment under the law as other ethnic groups in his country. 

Shown drone footage that appears to show Uighurs being blindfolded and led to trains, and which has been authenticated by Australian security services, he said he “did not know” what the video was showing and “sometimes you have a transfer of prisoners, in any country.”

When a nation is accused of forcefully sterilizing an ethnic and religious group and shipping them by trains to camps, it is difficult not to reflexively conjure images of the abuse and genocide of countless Jews under Nazi Germany in World War II.

If the charges against the Chinese government are demonstrated to be true, the world must stand together in opposition. Persecuting or murdering any group of people is simply unacceptable.

In a speech from 2018, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska spoke out against Russian corruption and authoritarianism. He said:

The American people are a people, and we are a nation that believes in human dignity. We believe that this isn’t just true of 320 million Americans. It’s true of 7.5 billion people across this globe. We believe in free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the right of protest not because the government gives us those rights but God created us with dignity.

Senator Sasse’s point is critical to keep in mind as we seek to address this current crisis. What is happening in China should matter to us in America not because China has violated some arbitrary American principle of human dignity, but because China has violated the true and righteous reality of human dignity. That humans have certain immutable rights is true, as Senator Sasse points out, not only for Americans, but for all 7.5 billion people across the globe. When these rights are violated, we should stand up. When ethnic and religious groups are tortured, we should yell, “No!”

Though we may not share a common faith, Christians and Muslims share a common humanity. We also both understand that there is something beyond what we can merely see, taste, touch, smell, hear, and discern with our senses. We believe that there is a God who is all-powerful. Because Christians also believe in an all-powerful God who is all-loving as well, we should reflect His love by loving our Muslim neighbors and speaking out for their welfare and against those who would seek to rob them of their dignity – and lives.

People everywhere have a right to life. May we pray to the God who has not only given a right to life to the Uighurs, but also gives hope for a life that is eternal through Christ.

July 27, 2020 at 5:15 am 1 comment

Human Smuggling Comes to San Antonio

San Antonio Walmart Smuggling

Credit: CNN

I first heard about the tractor trailer packed with people in a Wal-Mart parking lot on my city’s south side when a friend sent me a link to a news story as I was preparing for worship a week ago.  As the story unfolded over this past week, the details that have emerged have been grisly.  Up to 200 illegal immigrants may have been crammed into the back of the truck without food, water, or refrigeration as temperatures in south Texas topped 100 degrees.  Ten people died.  Thirty others had to be hospitalized.  Some suffered serious brain damage.  The driver of the truck, James Bradley, told investigators he did not know there were immigrants inside the back of the truck he was driving.  The evidence, however, points to a conclusion that he did.  He has been charged with knowingly transporting illegal immigrants.

Human smuggling is a crime.  What has happened here breaks immigration law and ought to be – and, in fact, is being – treated as a crime. But, of course, there is more to this story than just the legal concerns it raises, for what has happened here is also a terrible assault on human dignity.  People are not commodities to be smuggled, bought, or sold, even if they can be enticed by promises of a better life.  Indeed, one of the people in the back of the truck to San Antonio was from Aguascalientes and paid $5,500 to escape Mexico.  He was willing to pay a steep fee for a long shot at a new life.  And those who transported him were all too willing to take as much money as they could from him, while at the same time recklessly endangering his life.

In the New Testament, Paul writes a letter to a slaveholder named Philemon whose slave, Onesimus, had run away to find asylum with the apostle.  Paul pleads with Philemon to receive Onesimus back “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother.”  Paul then adds, “He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, but as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord” (Philemon 16).  Paul, by how he assumes Philemon regards Onesimus, seeks to persuade Philemon that Onesimus is not a commodity to be recouped, but a human created by God to be loved and respected.

Philosophically, the Declaration of Independence echoes this view that human beings are to be treated with dignity when its drafters write that “all men are created equal,” and, as a necessary entailment of this, are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  The framers of the Declaration insist that no person can be commoditized and stripped of their dignity because every person is created by God and is therefore worthy of respect.

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska notes that, although this claim about human dignity is popularly enshrined in an American document, this is a value that should be embraced across humanity.  Senator Sasse explains:

The American idea is that God gives us rights … I think that the distinction we do well to clarify is that the American founding is a truth claim of all 7 billion people on the earth. We believe everyone is created with dignity.

In a tractor trailer that traveled to a Wal-Mart parking lot on the south side of San Antonio, this value was disregarded.  And for that, there must be an accounting.  Human life is just too precious to demand anything less.

July 31, 2017 at 5:15 am 2 comments


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