Leaders from 18 different countries compromised themselves to work against intolerance and religious persecution around the world.
Last weekend the CEO of ANAJURE, Dr. Uziel Santava, was in a official mission in Norway with two members of the Brazilian house of Representatives. MP Leonardo Quintão (State of Minas Gerais) and MP Roberto de Lucena ( State of São Paulo). They were representing Brazil in the International Panel of Parliamentarians – IPP – for Freedom of religion or Belief. The event took place in the headquarters of the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo. Parliamentarians and representatives from Europe, Asia, North America and South America made an international coalition for freedom of religion.
They were fighting for the observation of the article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first action of all the parliamentarians who were attending the Panel was to sign in a letter ( Check the letter in Portuguese, English and Spanish) in order to reaffirm their compromise to work against any kind of violation of the right of the Freedom of Religion. The group of parliamentarians was composed by people from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Nepal, Norway, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Burma, Pakistan, Malasia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Italy. A copy of the official letter signed by all the competent authorities is available on the following link.
In the occasion several letters were signed and sent to specific countries that struggle with specific problems of Religious persecution. One of those countries mentioned is Pakistani. In Pakistan there is a special law called “Blasphemy Law”. The Blaspheme Law forbids citizens in Pakistan to abandon the official religion and convert to another religion – a few weeks ago a couple was brutally murdered because of the Blasphemy Law. (Click here to check the news reporting this violations of human rights). The letter from the Coalition of Parliamentarians were sent to Paquistanese authorities (check the letter here). The letter emphasizes the necessity of protections of the Freedom of religion and freedom of speech of all citizens. Another letter was sent to the Vatican to offer and to ask the support of the Pope Francis against religious persecution around the World.
Several prominent international authorities in defense of religious freedom were present in programming in the Parliament of Norway, among these: Baroness Berridge Elisabth, member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, who is chairman of the British Parliamentary Group that works for freedom of religion and the leader of the international coalition signed at the event; Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Katrina Lantos Swett, who chairs the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and Mr Abu Raja, the Norwegian Parliament, hosted the event.
As project leader, Baroness Berridge said she believes in the strength of this work, and said more: "I think we have as much impact as legislators, if we work together in a coordinated manner this will enable us to share knowledge and information; We will be able to challenge our governments and ask them about what they are doing to face the suffering of millions of people."
This international alliance of parliamentarians brings great expectations to organizations that work and support de freedom of religion around the world. Three great examples of such organizations are: ANAJURE (Brasil), da Stefanus Alliance (Norway) e a Christian Solidarity Worldwide (England). According to Mervyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide –“It is encouraging see so many parliamentarians from developing nations being part of this movement”. According to Dr. Santana, – “this alliance represents something historic, impactful and extremely important to the world, because of this ANAJURE integrally supports such initiative… We shall not cease to fight till we see the suffering of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities stopped".
Regarding the climax moment of the summit of parliamentarians in Oslo and the signing of the Letter to the nations, Dr. Uziel said: "Today was a historic and special day for the nations. For the first time, parliamentarians from around the world – "supported by" institutions like Stefanus Alliansen, ANAJURE, CSW, USCIRF, etc – signed a statement in favour of the compliance of article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which deals with religious freedom… They also signed another letters to different countries that violate this fundamental human right. The importance of this movement lies upon the fact that the signatories were more than “lawmakers”, they were representing their own people, their own civil society. People around the world are crying out for the respect of fundamental human rights. The work is just beginning. Come on."
Next steps of the "IPP"
The next meeting of the International Group of Parliamentarians will take place in Brazil or Turkey in 2015.
Before that, on March 17, 2015, Brazilian National Congress in Brasilia will have its official Parliamentary Front in Defense of Freedom of Religion. Such initiative is a result of the actions of the International Coalition. The launch has already confirmed the presence of Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and some lawmakers who attended the meeting in Oslo. Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, also said he will do his best to come to the event. A day later, on March 18, in the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), the 2nd International Conference on Fundamental Civil Liberties, organized by ANAJURE will be attended by Dr. Knox Thames, director of policy and research occur Religious Liberty Commission International US (USCIRF), a leading expert on religious freedom in the world, Prof Dr. Nazila Ghanea, the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, and the Portuguese constitutionalists J. Canotilho J. and Jónatas Machado.