On his last full day in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that China is engaged in “ongoing” genocide against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, calling it a “systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
Pompeo also accused China of committing crimes against humanity.
From The Guardian:
“These crimes are ongoing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and freedom of movement,” the secretary of state’s declaration said, noting that the Nazis were accused of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials after the second world war.
The declaration is not linked to any particular punitive measures. It called on “all appropriate multilateral and relevant juridical bodies, to join the United States in our effort to promote accountability for those responsible for these atrocities”. But the Trump administration has cut all ties with the International criminal court, one of the most important of those multilateral bodies.
On the same day, in a separate statement made on Twitter, Pompeo railed against multiculturalism, saying it “is not who America is.”
The New York Times noted that this is “a curious message from a diplomat whose own ancestors were immigrants from Italy, and one that ran counter to the United States’ long-held pride in being a melting pot of cultures.”
In a post on Twitter, Mr. Pompeo, who has overseen a State Department where diplomats of color have been ignored, passed over or otherwise pressured to resign, also decried what he described as a sop to political correctness that he said “points in one direction — authoritarianism.”
“Wokeism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they’re not who America is,” Mr. Pompeo wrote. “They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker.”
Both The Guardian and The Times noted that Pompeo is reported to have aspirations for a 2024 presidential run.
But neither report noted that Pompeo has participated in an administration that has itself cracked down on those it considers outsiders or undesirable, responding to fears of ‘multiculturalism’ by placing ethnic minorities in camps.
Those facilities have been well-documented over the years, with many referring to them as concentration camps.
The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer wrote in 2019 that Americans “recoiled in shock and horror” when “observers who visited immigration detention facilities in the Southwest reported that children were being held in cruelly austere conditions.”
These observers told the press that the children at a facility in Clint, Texas, were sleeping on concrete floors and being denied soap and toothpaste. They described “children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears … caring for infants they’ve just met.” A visiting doctor called the detention centers “torture facilities.” At least seven children have died in U.S. custody in the past year, compared with none in the 10 years prior. More than 11,000* children are now being held by the U.S. government on any given day. As if these conditions were insufficiently punitive, the administration has canceled recreational activities, an act that, like the conditions themselves, likely violates the law.
At a processing center in El Paso, Texas, 900 migrants were “being held at a facility designed for 125. In some cases, cells designed for 35 people were holding 155 people,” The New York Times reported. One observer described the facility to Texas Monthly as a “human dog pound.” The government’s own investigators have found detainees in facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement being fed expired food at detention facilities, “nooses in detainee cells,” “inadequate medical care,” and “unsafe and unhealthy conditions.”
An early-July inspector-general report found “dangerous overcrowding” in some Border Patrol facilities and included pictures of people crowded together like human cargo. More than 50,000 people are being held in facilities run by ICE, and something close to 20,000 in facilities run by Customs and Border Protection, and more than 11,000 children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.*
All of this predates the coronavirus pandemic, which has only given rise to further maltreatment. Just last week, The Guardian reported that “Immigrants lacked access to the most basic Covid-19 prevention measures, such as soap for hand-washing, and were retaliated against for raising safety concerns as the pandemic spread through detention facilities last year.”
Ice, which oversees immigration detention, created unacceptable health risks and violated constitutional and human rights during the pandemic, said researchers from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and Harvard Medical School, who interviewed 50 former detainees for the report.
In addition to mistreating immigrants who reach America’s borders, the Trump administration has worked to keep certain foreign-born people from even accessing legal means for arrival.
Last July, the Trump administration proposed “regulations that would raise the standard of proof for migrants hoping to obtain asylum and allow immigration judges to deny applications for protection without giving migrants an opportunity to testify in court,” The Times reported.
Well before the pandemic presented an opportunity to crack down on immigration, the Trump administration released a regulation “that could dramatically cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the US by making it easier to reject green card and visa applications,” CNN reported in 2019.
And never to be forgotten is the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which led to thousands of children being separated from their families — many of whom have yet to be reunited. The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General confirmed in a recent report “that the administration’s cruel treatment of migrants has been intentional, calculated and surgically effective in dispensing pain and suffering,” The Washington Post editorial board wrote this week.
At the heart of the Trump administration’s immigration policy was a desire to keep as many immigrants from arriving, particularly those from country’s deemed less desirable. And if they happened to reach the U.S. border, their experience would involve cruelty and suffering.
Pompeo showed his true colors with the statement rejecting multiculturalism, and while his words about the treatment of Uighur Muslims may ring true, the Republican’s hypocrisy is on full display during his final 24 hours as secretary of state.
Image credit: State Department Photo by Ronny Przysucha / Public Domain]