– ADF India hosts online conference on religious persecution
– Event in honour of the international day for religious freedom on 22 August
NEW DELHI (21 August 2020) – Amidst the COVID-19 crisis in India and a time when attacks and violence against religious minorities in India are on the rise, ADF International’s partner organization, ADF India, organized a high-profile online conference on the fundamental right to religious freedom, featuring the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The event is part of the ongoing campaign “No One Should Be Targeted for Their Faith”, addressing religious persecution in India and beyond. The campaign seeks to promote religious freedom and the inherent dignity of all people and has gained support from Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikhs leaders. The campaign leads up to 22 August, which is the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.
“The United Nations designated 22 August as a day of solidarity with victims of violence based on religion or belief, through a resolution two years ago, and invited everyone to observe the day in an appropriate manner. Therefore, I am grateful to all, also to organizations like ADF India, for observing this important occasion to demonstrate solidarity with victims,” said Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in his remarks during the event.
“Freedom of religion is a human right. It is vitally important to pay attention to solidarity with victims, to secure them remedies, to enable them access to justice, and to provide guarantees of non-recurrence.”
Thousands targeted for their faith
“Nobody should be persecuted, let alone murdered for their faith. “The constitution of India holds a promise for the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship for all. Yet, across the country, thousands of people are targeted for their faith. The hopes and dreams of families are shattered due to the senseless loss of lives, livelihood, and property. This is not the promise of the constitution and this is not the ethos of India. India’s history is replete with examples of religious traditions finding space to flourish and grow. India is a garden of many flowers, the sweet fragrance of which fills our culture,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India.
Since 2019, violence against Christians in India has risen significantly. The United Christian Forum has documented over 100 incidents of harassment and mob violence against Christians in 2020 alone. The attacks usually take a similar shape and often the police fail to take action against the mobs. A mob will arrive at a prayer meeting or Christian gathering, shout abuse and harassment and beat up those in attendance including women and children. Then, the pastors or priests are usually arrested under false allegations of forced conversions.
While the lock-down measures around the COVID-19 outbreak in India had brought brief relief from religious persecution to Indian minorities, violence targeting faith groups now seems to be back for the worse.