A day for the victims and survivors of religion or belief

On 22nd August 2019, for the first time, the world will observe the ‘International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief’. Following a rise in intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against communities and individuals around the world, this International Day was established by the Members of the UN General Assembly earlier this year (see A/RES/73/296) to ‘unequivocally condemn continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief.’

‘‘The observance and marking of such days are necessary to remind the world of discrimination, intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals and communities around the world. We, at IPPFoRB, mark this day and affirm our commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief for everyone, everywhere’’, said David Anderson, Canadian MP and Chair of IPPFoRB Steering Committee.

David Anderson, MP Canada and Chair of IPPFoRB Steering Committee

David Anderson, MP Canada and Chair of IPPFoRB Steering Committee

In a time when the world is witnessing atrocities, persecution and hate crimes in various parts of the world such as those against the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Yazidis and Christians in Syria or the humanists and atheists who are targeted for expressing their own convictions, the resolution for establishing such a UN Day is necessary. It also recognizes the need for an ‘open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at local, national, regional and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.’

Anderson added, ‘‘As agents of change, parliamentarians’ and legislators’ influence in their country and abroad has an important role to play in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief.’’

The resolution takes a focus on ‘unequivocally condemning all acts, methods and practices of terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomsoever committed, regardless of their motivation.’ It also recognizes ‘the importance of providing victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief and members of their families with appropriate support and assistance in accordance with applicable law’. This comes after the recent spade of terrorist attacks against persons on the basis of their religion or belief in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world.

Lastly, Anderson said, ‘’raising our voice for the right to freedom of religion or belief for others and not just ourselves is the test. Much needs to be done in order to bring about meaningful action to address the issues of freedom of religion or belief.’’

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