Faith-based persecution on the rise in Asia-Pacific

Taiwan holds region’s first conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief

From WorldWatch Monitor. Published: March 31, 2016 by Asif Aqeel

Persecution due to people’s faith has increased over recent years in the Asia-Pacific region, said speakers addressing the first Asia-Pacific Religious Freedom Forum, held from February 18-21 in Taiwan.

The conference, hosted by former Vice-President of Taiwan Annette Lu, was timed during Chinese New Year celebrations and right after the general elections in Taiwan.

A declaration, presented by the President of US-based Freedom House, Mark P. Lagon, affirmed a “commitment to establish and reinforce networks of advocates dedicated to promoting freedom of religion or belief in their respective countries and in the Asia-Pacific region, including the creation of both governmental and non-governmental mechanisms to promote freedom of religion.”

ChinaAid President Bob Fu, a former Chinese dissident himself, said the declaration was a roadmap “for those who wish for a free world”.

Participants came from 26 countries – including Pakistan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar – to be part of the forum. They included representatives from charities and international NGOs which focus on freedom of religion, such as Open Doors International, which works with minority Christians worldwide.

The conference was hosted by ChinaAid and the Democratic Pacific Union, and sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, Taiwan Interfaith Foundation, Religious Liberty Partnership, Humanistic Culture and Education Foundation, International Religious Freedom Roundtable and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and justice.

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