Persecution Spurs Unprecedented Gathering of Parliamentarians

IPP logoIn the face of rising religious persecution of people on the grounds of faith or belief, on September 18-19, over 100 parliamentarians from almost 50 countries will assemble in New York City to discuss ways to advance freedom of religion or belief.

The event is cosponsored by the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPP FoRB), a network launched last year in response to the rising crisis of religious or belief based persecution, both by terrorist groups and authoritarian governments. The IPP is an alliance of parliamentarians committed to advancing religious freedom for all, as defined by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Those attending from the UK include the Bishop of Leeds, Lord David Alton, Stephen Timms MP and Baroness Berridge.

“On the eve of the UN General Assembly, I am very pleased so many parliamentarians will be travelling to New York to discuss how to protect freedom of religion or belief for all,” said IPP Steering Group member Abid Raja (MP, Norway). “The migration crisis facing Europe is fuelled in part by religious extremism and persecution. It is positive that what we launched at the Nobel Peace Centre last year continues to grow, as the problems continue to grow as well.”

“There is a global crisis for freedom of religion or belief,” said IPP Steering Group member Baroness Elizabeth Berridge (UK). “An international problem requires an international response. Our meetings in New York will bring together parliamentarians, diplomats, civil society and religious leaders to devise strategies to defend this fundamental right. Collective action is needed now more than ever.”

The meeting is open to civil society and members of the media on Friday and Saturday morning.

Highlights will include:

  • Panels with leading parliamentarians and diplomats on Friday morning about how to advance freedom of religion or belief for all in the face of repression by ISIS and authoritarian governments
  • A discussion with religious leaders, including a cleric from Iran, a bishop from Nigeria, and a Buddhist leader from Japan on Friday morning
  • Hearing from family members of jailed believers in Iran on Saturday morning: the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini and a relative of an imprisoned Baha’i leader
  • The signing on Saturday morning of the New York Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief by 100 parliamentarians, committing them to renewed action to promote this fundamental right

Parliamentarians attending the meeting will come from: Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Burma/Myanmar; Cambodia; Canada; Central African Republic; Chad; Chile; Costa Rica; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Georgia; Germany; Honduras; India; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Lebanon; Lithuania; Malawi; Malaysia; Mexico; Nepal; Netherlands; Nigeria; Norway; Pakistan; Panama; Peru; Senegal; Serbia; Solomon Islands; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Taiwan; Tunisia; Turkey; United Kingdom; Uruguay.