'Truth will prevail' after China does not air Arsenal game over footballer's criticism, says US top diplomat.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came out Tuesday in support of German-Turkish footballer Mesut Ozil in his ongoing row with China over the country's treatment of its minority Muslim Uighur population.
"China’s Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor @MesutOzil1088 and @Arsenal’s games all season long, but the truth will prevail," Pompeo said in a tweet amid Washington's ongoing trade war with China.
"The CCP can’t hide its gross #HumanRights violations perpetrated against Uighurs and other religious faiths from the world," he added, referring to the Chinese Community Party, China's ruling party.
China’s Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor @MesutOzil1088 and @Arsenal’s games all season long, but the truth will prevail. The CCP can’t hide its gross #HumanRights violations perpetrated against Uighurs and other religious faiths from the world.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 17, 2019
Ozil on Friday accused Muslims of staying silent over what he called China’s persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
On his Instagram account, the renowned Turkish footballer called Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution... Glorious believers who put up a fight alone against these who forcefully move people away from Islam.”
In China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, he said “Qurans are burned... Mosques were closed down... Islamic theological schools, Madrasahs were banned ... Religious scholars were killed one by one ... Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”
"Don't they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?" Ozil, who is Muslim, asked.
#HayırlıCumalarDoğuTürkistan 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/dJgeK4KSIk— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 13, 2019
In retaliation, China's state broadcaster decided not to air Sunday's Arsenal-Manchester City game and China's Foreign Ministry reportedly said Ozil "has been deceived by fake news."
"If Mr. Ozil has the opportunity, we will be pleased to see him going to Xinjiang and having a look," spokesman Geng Shuang said, according to multiple reports.
Ozil's feud with Beijing is just the latest episode in which China has sought to quash dissent after a sports figure issued criticism of its policies.
Amid ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey voiced support for the demonstrators Oct. 7 on Twitter prompting Beijing's state-controlled media outlets to launch salvos against Morey, the Rockets and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
NBA games have remained off-air on China's CCTV following Morey's tweet, and the Rockets' business within China has been effectively blacklisted in the nation of 1.4 billion people, according to the Wall Street Journal.
China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of the region’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
China is accused of carrying out repressive policies against the Uighurs and restraining their religious, commercial and cultural rights.
Up to one million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in the autonomous region, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to US officials and UN experts.
In a report last September, Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of carrying out a “systematic campaign of human rights violations” against Uighur Muslims in the autonomous region.
China denies the charges against it, claiming Uighurs are being educated in "vocational training centers."