THE INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM GOVERNMENT GROUPS NEED TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE
THE CHRISTIAN MINORITIES NEED TO STRENGTHEN THEMSELVES
Written by Jeffrey S. Ram, Toronto, Canada, July 20, 2021
There are numerous International Religious Freedom official groups, but they have failed to stop the persecution of Christian minorities. The oppression of victimized Christians has increased in intensity, violence, pain, and suffering. The vulnerable Christian communities should strengthen themselves socially, economically, and politically to defend themselves and make them more secure. An Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, advised. "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
THE INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OFFICIAL GROUPS
The International Religious Freedom Act passed by the U.S. Congress in October 1998 created the position and the U.S. State Department office of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. This act also created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The International Religious Freedom Roundtable facilitates policy discussions and coordination between civil society, government, and multilateral organizations.
The IRF Secretariat is the social convener of the global network of Roundtables that bring together faith communities, civil society, and governments for policy discussions and coordinated actions.
The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFORB) is a network of parliamentarians and legislators from around the world committed to combatting religious persecution and advancing freedom of religion or belief, or FoRB.
On June 15, 2015, Canada launched the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, involving a diverse, cross-regional group of over twenty countries to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief worldwide.
The annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom brings together leaders from around the world to discuss the challenges facing religious freedom, identify means to address religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, and promote greater respect and preservation of religious liberty for all. The U.S. hosted it in 2018 and 2019. Poland hosted it virtually in 2020.
The International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, formed in 2019, is a multinational effort to protect and advance freedom of religion or belief globally between the annual ministerials. Currently, 32 countries are members of this Alliance.
The European Union Special Representatives (EUSR) are emissaries of the European Union with specific tasks abroad. They tackle particular issues, conflict areas, or regions of countries. The European Union also releases a Human Rights and Democracy in the World Report annually.
The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent and impartial non-judicial institution established in 1999 by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in 47 member states.
The U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) monitor human rights globally.
Many nations, including Denmark, Germany, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. also have ambassadors or special envoys for freedom of religion or belief.
THE PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIAN MINORITIES CONTINUES
The Open Doors 2021 World Watch List reported, "Globally, 4,277 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned and another 1,710 were abducted this past year alone." The report added that a large number of Christians were already in prison for many years. "Though one in eight Christians face violence worldwide, their number is two out of five in Asia, where Christians live in a climate of fear due to rampant religious persecution."
THE EFFECTS OF OPPRESSION
At the recent International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Iraq rightly emphasized, "Sustained persecution against a group, if not stopped, eventually takes from them their physical properties, their livelihoods, their security and, in the end, their dignity as human beings."
SELF-DEFENCE IS A BASIC RIGHT AND RESPONSIBILITY
The moral persuasion by various government IRF organizations is a slow process. Such efforts take a long time to bear fruits.
Generally, the poor, weak, and uneducated Christian minorities are considered soft targets by the religious extremist hooligans and bullies. Therefore, the Christian minority communities should help and guide their children to focus on education, training, and apprenticeship. Improved socioeconomic conditions will make the Christian minorities more capable of defending and protecting themselves.
The Christian minorities should also form coalitions and alliances for justice with other oppressed groups and members of the civil society like media, trade unions, and sympathetic majority faith leaders.
Christian minorities can be victims of religious violence at any time. Therefore, they should always be alert and prepared. Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, asserted," Self-defense is not only our right; it is our duty." The American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson pronounced, "Nature has made up her mind that what cannot defend itself shall not be defended." The Christian minorities should realize that their safety is their responsibility. Consequently, they should empower themselves for their protection and security.