Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against 17 foreign government officials and their family members on Thursday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned 17 officials of China, Jamaica and other foreign governments, accusing them of committing gross human rights violations.
The slew of designations came on Human Rights Day, which has been observed annually on Dec. 10 in recognition of the day in 1948 that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement the department designated Huang Yuanxiong, head of China's Xiamen Public Security Bureau Wucun Police Station, for his committing "severe violations of religious freedom of Falun Gong practitioners."
Pompeo said he is accused of being involved in the detention and interrogation of those who follow the spiritual movement.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has repeatedly warned about the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners in China.
In its 2020 report on religious freedom in China, the USCIRF noted that in 2019 thousands of people were arrested for practicing the movement's meditation exercises or distributing literature about their beliefs.
"The world cannot stand idly by as the PRC government perpetrates horrific and systematic abuses against people in China, including violating the internationally recognized right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief," Pompeo said.
The State Department also designated Salvadorian politician Jose Antonio Almendariz Rivas for his involvement in the extrajudicial killing of Spanish national Dr. Begona Garcia de Arandigoyen on Sept. 10, 1990.
Six officers of the Jamaican Constabulary Force Crime Management Unit were also designated for their involvement in the extrajudicial killings of four people in the country on May 7, 2003, the statement said.
"These designations underscore our support for human rights and the promotion of accountability for gross violators of human rights," Pompeo said.
The sanctions were also imposed against their immediate family members.
Britain also sanctioned 11 politicians in Russia, Venezuela, Gambia and Pakistan on Thursday alongside the United States' designations.
The sanctions also came a day after Anti-corruption Day, on which the Treasury sanctioned several people.
"On International Human Rights Day and International Anti-corruption Day, the U.S. and U.K. imposed sanctions on 37 corrupt actors and human rights abuses," Pompeo tweeted. "Together, we will ensure corrupt actors and human rights abusers will have no refuge within our jurisdictions."