New reports by The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) and Asia Centre show that religious freedom appears to be regressing in Southeast Asia. Serious challenges have arisen in recent years across the region, such as in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, according to the reports.
– The challenges are at least four-fold: rise of religious-based intolerance, discrimination against minorities and indigenous peoples, the securitization of Freedom of Religion or Belief in the context of fighting terrorism and the dire need to uphold international human rights standards in this overall context, says Dr. Robin Ramcharan of Asia Centre who coordinated the research on behalf of IPPFoRB.
“These reports provide a valuable resource for parliamentarians and civil society organisations across South East Asia. It gives them the tools to hold their Governments to account on their obligations and commitments to freedom of religion or belief,” says David Anderson, member of the IPPFoRB Steering Group.
Each of the 11 country reports clearly sets out the progress that has been made as well as the challenges still remaining. They are essential reading for all those wanting to engage in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process and more specifically in religious freedom monitoring and advocacy in South East Asia.
“I encourage ASEAN parliamentarians to use these expert reports to press their respective governments for the legislative and policy changes necessary to secure religious freedom for all,” Andersons adds.
The reports were launched in Bangkok October 7th, during a workshop with some 25 Members of Parliament from the ASEAN-countries, hosted by IPPFoRB and ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
Here are the country profiles: