The religious freedom ambassador announced this week that the United States would start working against the use of technology in the suppression of religious minorities.
The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, said during a November 17 press conference that the U.S. would address the problem of oppressing religious minorities with the use of technology.
Brownback’s statement cited China’s continued abuse against its ethnic minority, the Uyghurs. The ambassador said Beijing had created a “virtual police state” which has extensively monitored the movements and activities of the country’s population and the conduct of predictive policing.
The ambassador said that they saw high-tech observation systems that used artificial intelligence and facial recognition to identify and oppress the ethnic minority. Chinese officials have used the systems to prevent the Uyghurs from practicing their Muslim faith. They have also locked up the minority inside detention facilities.
On November 16 and 17, Poland hosted the third annual ministerial virtually amid the threat of the COVID-19 virus. Multiple leaders from over 50 countries and international organizations attended the meeting. The U.S. was the one that hosted the first two ministerials in 2018 and 2019.
The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, said, “Upholding the right to religious freedom is not just a moral necessity. It is a national security imperative.” She added that nations that protect their citizens’ religious freedom are safer and more advanced than other countries.
When asked about the recent near-election of President-elect Joe Biden, Brownback said he was optimistic about what the change in administration could do for the future of religious freedom in U.S. diplomacy. Under the new International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance that consists of 32 member countries, the simple change of a president would hinder its goals and objectives.
One of the United States’ priorities next year would be addressing China’s apparent abuse of its ethnic minority. Brownback said, “And we want to stop this from spreading to other countries around the world or spreading more to other countries around the world,” the Catholic News Agency reported.
The ambassador added U.S. politicians should also look into discussing the release of prisoners of conscience and repealing of blasphemy laws. Brownback said there were several thousand religious prisoners who have been released in multiple countries worldwide.
Brownback said there are ten countries that implement the death penalty for suspects of apostasy or blasphemy. He said the U.S. is working on repealing these laws as they place an undue restriction on people’s religious freedom.