Roberto de Lucena is Secretary of the Parliamentary Front for Refugees and Humanitarian Aid (FPMRAH).a member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief – IPP, and Deputy licensed in the current legislature, currently occupying the position of Secretary of Tourism in São Paulo state.
On the last 07th, the Bill 7787/2014 was approved in the Foreign Relations and National Defense Commission from the Chamber of Deputies, authorizing the President to suspend diplomatic and trade relations with countries that promote or tolerate religious persecution and violate human rights. The bill is one of the actions that the Congressman on leave Roberto de Lucena (PV-SP) has taken in recent years, after becoming aware trough ANAJURE (National Association of Evangelicals Jurists) of what has happened to Christians and other religious minorities in countries, notably the Middle East, Asia and Africa. In this sense, from a proposition by ANAJURE, Mr Lucena filed a request to Congress in 2013, approving the RLP Declaration (Religious Liberty Partnership) on the massacre of religious minorities in Syria (link).
During an exclusive interview for ANAJURE, Mr. Lucena (PV-SP), author of the Bill 7787/2014 that now goes to the Constitution and Justice Commission (CJC), talked about his proposal and also highlighted the importance of the Parliamentary Front for Refugee and Humanitarian Aid in Congress.
Dr. Uziel Santana, commenting on the legislative initiative of Mr Lucena, analyzes that "it is a legislative proposition that meets the most modern dictates of modern diplomacy with regard to fundamental human rights agenda. We requested that to the Brazilian Government in last Thursday, 14th, during a public hearing (link) at the Foreign Relations Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, about persecution on Christians and other minorities. ANAJURE fully supports the Bill 7787/2014 and calls for its approval in the coming months."
ANAJURE – Even religious freedom being a fundamental human right it is extremely violated in many countries. According to reports from Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Stefanus Alliance International, both partners of ANAJURE, about 75% of the world population lives in a country with restrictions on this freedom. This is undoubtedly a very important issue for Brazilian international relations. However, when working for the approval of a Bill as the 7787/2014, which in Article 1 says "It authorizes the president to suspend or fail to conclude treaties, conventions and International diplomatic or commercial acts with countries that violate international treaties of Human rights to which Brazil is a signatory and / or practice or promote religious persecution," certainly the economic factor must have weight at some point. In this sense, do you believe to be safe putting this into practice without economic loss to Brazil?
Roberto de Lucena – This article provided in the Bill surely favors both religious freedom and the economic development of the countries involved, since Brazil is a country with great economic potential and is a key partner of countries where there are severe violations of religious freedom such as Nigeria, for example, whose minorities suffer from terrorist actions of Boko Haram. Brazil, as an economic leader, can and should press countries which hold good diplomatic relationship, using it as a tool to fight in defense of human rights. In fact, it follows the model of international powers that already use this practice in the last hundred years into diplomatic relations.
We cannot think this issue does not concern us. Brazil, which is a secular state, but whose population is 90% Christian, holds important credentials to provide a voice that can be heard throughout the international community. The world community knows who the sponsors of international terrorist are.
If we had broken the silence when Hitler rose against the Jews in the 40s in the last century, we could have prevented the deaths of more than 6 million people in the gas chambers and concentration camps.
A – With an international work in defense of religious freedom, with support from ANAJURE, you represent Brazil in the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief – IPP International, composed by representatives from Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, Central America and South America, whose main objective is to promote the compliance of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which speaks in defense of religious freedom and expression. In this sense, which international actions you have taken part?
RL – With parliamentarians from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Nepal, Norway, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Burma, Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Italy, this international group was created to be an international response in defense of freedom of religion and belief, and what we aim is also that this effort cross political, ideological and religious lines.
Brazil has distinguished itself in this international group. With the ANAJURE coordination and leadership of Mr Leonardo Quintão, we launched at the National Congress in March this year the IPP/Brazil, consolidating our mobilization as established since the launch of international IPP in Oslo, capital of Norway, in November 2014, when I joined to parliamentarians from different countries who are willing to break the silence and to produce a worldwide movement to fight on the behalf of the persecuted because of their faith and their religion.
As a representative of Brazil in the international IPP, I made a commitment through the signing of a document, the Charter of Oslo, to struggle together with political leaders from around the world against intolerance and religious persecution. Other letters and diplomatic meetings dealing with specific issues of countries where violations of religious freedom occur are also important actions of the group. Diplomatic actions that may not always have advertising for strategic reasons are bringing results through dialogue. In this sense, we also confirmed that the Bill 7787/2014 receives support from our IPP partners.
A – Here in Brazil, as a parliamentarian, you are the secretary at the Parliamentary Front for Refugees and Humanitarian Aid (FPMRAH), founded on 17 March this year in Congress. Consisting of 209 Federal Deputies and 3 Senators and representatives of civil society, such as ANAJURE, in which way the Front has been working in defense of religious freedom and the international rights of refugees?
RL – An important action of FPMRAH and ANAJURE was to receive in Brazil one Pakistani family as refugees, whose householder was sentenced to death for blasphemy law. This shows that we are working with effective action even before our launch.
With support from the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have also scheduled an official mission trip to Jordan in late May, to analyze new urgent cases in order that Brazil may serve as refuge, especially for orphaned children victims of war and terrorism by the Islamic State.
We also visited Brazilian embassies of Pakistan, North Korea and Nepal in order to open dialogue on specific issues of these countries and be mediators for conflict resolution, whether for humanitarian or for reception of refugees in Brazil.
A – As a pastor, we know that you promoted the prayer campaign "The People of the Cross" on social networks and in Christian churches. Tell us about the project.
RL – Over 40 days we mobilized a campaign of prayer in social networks on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. The campaign began in March, just days after the shocking images displayed by the Islamic State in February. We made a great crusade of prayer crying out to our God and asking Him for the persecuted church and the people of the Cross, which is being insulted, persecuted and eliminated in a brutal way. As I’m worried about Islamophobia, I denounce the rising Christianophobia. True Muslims and true Christians may live in peace along with people of other faiths in a world of tolerance and respect.