It sounds like a cheerful sort of mentor program: "Pair Up and Become Family." But in China, nothing is cheerful, and certainly nothing about this intrusive (and probably abusive) home surveillance is good. When your husband has been hauled off to the country's modern-day concentration camps, the last thing you want is a government official spending the night in your bed. And yet, that's exactly what's happening in more Uyghur neighborhoods.
They call them "relatives." In reality, they're communist spies -- infiltrating homes and violating the privacy (and who knows what else) of thousands of Uyghur families. Radio Free Asia broke the story on this latest attempt to make life difficult for the Muslim minority, whose horror stories are the stuff of 1930s nightmares. No one survives without scars, as the nauseating testimonies from escapees like Sayragul Sauytbay know. The people inside the barbed wire just try to make it from hour to hour, despite beatings, gang rapes, and torture. Now, their families -- the ones left behind -- are trying to manage with members of the regime living inside their homes, watching their every move.
"The 'relatives' come to visit us here every two months..." one anonymous source explained. "They stay with their paired relatives day and night," he said. "In addition to working and eating together... the officials even sleep in the same bed as family members, the cadre said, particularly during the winter." The local explained that he had "never heard" of any situations "in which male officials had attempted to take advantage of female members of the households they stayed in," but then, most of the world has never heard of half of the horrors taking place inside China's borders.
As we've learned, it's one thing for Chinese officials to say nothing is happening, and quite another when you hear the truth from the people themselves. When you look at the reports that are coming out of some of these detention facilities, and the abuse -- the sexual abuse -- the assaults, the torture that's taking place, and the live organ harvesting, it's hard to believe that nothing harmful is happening.
President Trump is doing everything he can to expose China and hold them accountable, but what can Americans do? I talked about that Wednesday with FRC's Travis Weber on "Washington Watch." We need to understand, Travis said, that as Christians, we have an obligation to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. "We still have incredible freedom here in America. We can pray without fear of being harassed by the government knocking at our door. We can take action with regard to our own government, urging [leaders] to stand up for religious freedom around the world, our elected officials. So we still have this freedom to act and advocate for our fellow believers -- brothers and sisters in China who cannot advocate for themselves. This is really at the core of it."
There are a number of things America can do to help ease the suffering of China's persecuted. FRC's Arielle Del Turco outlines a number of those in her new paper, "Religious Freedom in China: The History, Current Challenges, and the Proper Response to a Human Rights Crisis." As she explains, there are several things America can do from a public policy perspective through economic sanctions, official statements, and congressional action.
But we also have to remember, from a very practical standpoint, that one of the biggest problems about the People's Republic is that it's exporting its tyranny. Just as America, under President Trump, is working to promote religious freedom, China is working just as hard to promote its own brand of oppression. It influences with its money and with its resources -- as we've seen with American corporations, Hollywood, and even the NBA, who are all shying away from speaking out because of their financial interests.
American consumers have an important role to play in this, our own Dan Hart points out.
"We can all contact the companies that we buy products from and demand that these companies do all they can to pressure the Chinese government to restore human rights to its citizens. Companies listen to the concerns of their customers. The more we demand change, the more companies will realize how concerned their customers are about the issue of human rights in China and the more likely it will be that they will consider changing their business dealings with China."
"We American citizens have more power than we think we have. If we demand change from American companies who do business in China and use our purchasing power as leverage, we may be able to hasten the day when the Chinese people are finally free from government oppression."