Tension As Pope Francis sends this message to Uganda after the death of Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

ROME — Pope Francis has issued an appeal for the defense of human rights around the world, especially for those living under dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.


Pope Francis

“Let us pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis, that they may see their sacrifice and their work bear abundant fruit,” reads the pope’s monthly prayer intention, posted Tuesday by the pontiff’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

The pope also sent out a tweet Tuesday with an accompanying video, in which he insists that courage and resolution are needed to defend people’s basic rights.

“Defending fundamental human rights demands courage and determination,” Francis declares in the video, speaking in his native Spanish. “I’m referring to actively combatting poverty, inequality, the lack of work, land, and housing, and the denial of social and labor rights.”

“Often, in practice, fundamental human rights are not equal for all,” he states. “There are first-, second-, and third-class people, and those who are disposable. No. They must be equal for all.”

Pope Francis

“In some places, defending people’s dignity can mean going to prison, even without a trial,” he adds. “Or it might mean slander.”

“Every human being has the right to develop fully, and this fundamental right cannot be denied by any country,” he concludes.

Unfortunately, the pope’s unwillingness to call out China’s egregious human rights violations undermines his otherwise vital and timely message.

Just days ago, in his yearly Easter message in which he calls attention to human rights abuses around the world, the pope once again refrained from drawing attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s active genocide of the Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

For several years, Francis has been currying favor with Beijing in an effort to establish diplomatic relations with the officially atheist country and seems unwilling to do anything to upset Chinese leadership.

Pope Francis

On Easter, the pope drew attention to key areas around the globe suffering conflicts and injustice, mentioning the people of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, the Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray and the Cabo Delgado region, eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Jerusalem and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar.

As he has done on previous occasions, Francis opted to remain silent regarding China and its concentration camps where over a million Uighurs are currently detained, many of whom are tortured, raped, and forcibly sterilized.

Read also : Letter to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Frank Fremer is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda

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