Pope, for the first time, says China’s Uyghurs are “persecuted”

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – In a new book, Pope Francis calls China’s Muslim Uyghurs for the first time a “persecuted” people, something human rights activists have been asking him for years.

Pope Francis delivers his homily at a Mass celebrated for World Youth Day, at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, November 22, 2020. Vincenzo Pinto / Pool via REUTERS

In the broad “Dreaming: The Way to a Better Future” program, Francis also says the COVID-19 pandemic should prompt governments to consider establishing a permanent universal basic income.

In the book, a 150-page collaboration with his English-speaking biographer, Austen Ivereigh, Francis talks about economic, social and political changes he says are needed to tackle inequality after the pandemic ends. It will go on sale on December 1.

He also claims that people who see wearing masks as a state imposition are “victims only in their imagination” and congratulates those who protested the death of George Floyd in police custody for rallying to the “healthy indignation” which united them.

“I often think of the persecuted peoples: the Rohingyas, the poor Uyghurs, the Yazidis,” he said in a section where he also speaks of Christians persecuted in Islamic countries.

While the Pope has previously spoken of the Rohingya who fled Myanmar and the killing of Yazidis by the Islamic State in Iraq, this was the first time he mentioned Uyghurs.

Religious leaders, activist groups and governments have said crimes against humanity and genocide are underway against Uyghurs in China’s remote Xinjiang region, where more than a million people are held in some camps.

Last month, at a conference at the Vatican, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China for its treatment of Uyghurs.

Beijing dismissed the allegations as an attempt to discredit China, saying the camps were vocational education and training centers as part of the counterterrorism and deradicalization measures.

Many commentators have said the Vatican was reluctant to talk about Uyghurs earlier because it was renewing a controversial deal with Beijing on the appointment of bishops. The deal, which Pompeo urged the Vatican to abandon, was renewed in September.

Francis also gives his clearest support to date in the book on Universal Basic Income (UBI), a controversial policy adopted by some economists and sociologists in which governments give a fixed amount to every citizen without conditions.

UBI was a cornerstone of Andrew Yang’s campaign last year during the Democratic presidential primaries in the United States.

“Recognize the value for society of the work of non-learners

is an essential part of our thinking in the post-Covid world. That’s why I think it’s time to explore concepts like Universal Basic Income (UBI)… ”he said.

“By providing a universal basic income, we can liberate and enable people to work for the community in a dignified way,” he said.

Francois again criticized the trickle-down economy, the theory favored by conservatives that tax breaks and other incentives for big business and the wealthy will ultimately benefit the rest of society through investment and creation of businesses. ‘jobs.

He called it “the infamous trickle down theory’s false assumption that a growing economy will make us all richer.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Brown

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