International day commemorating victims of religious persecution to be observed for first time

Advocates call for real action, not just recognition
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

UNITED NATIONS – The “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” will be observed for the first time Thursday. The United Nations created the day in May 2019, and experts consider it a welcome step towards the prevention of religious persecution in the future.

“All people have the right to peacefully live out their faith, and we can never forget those who have faced persecution for doing so,” said ADF International Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom Kelsey Zorzi, who is also president of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the United Nations. “We welcome the United Nations’ decision to create an international day commemorating victims of religious persecution. At the same time, we are acutely aware that remembrance alone is not enough. Religious persecution is on the rise around the world. We therefore urge all countries to ensure that their laws and policies are in line with their commitments to protect religious freedom under international law.”

Recent reports by various national governments highlight the intensity of global persecution. A report commissioned by the British Foreign Office that was published in July outlines the persecution of Christians around the globe. It concludes that they are the most persecuted religious group in the world and reveals an increase in the phenomenon.

Similarly, the recent U.S. Department of State’s second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom highlighted the stories of people who have faced persecution. Advocates and government officials discussed goals and strategies to better protect religious minorities and those persecuted for their religion.

“Before we can find solutions on how to best protect international religious freedom we need to define the problems,” Zorzi explained. “Alliances and platforms such as the International Religious Freedom Roundtable are hugely valuable in discussing and developing these solutions. Civil society has much to offer policymakers on religious freedom but must go beyond merely asking for action. We need to create the actual solutions we want to see and build alliances to increase our reach. Simply commemorating victims will not prevent further religious persecution from happening.”
 

ADF International is a faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.
 
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