“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion… including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in community… to manifest his religion… in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
– Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration for Human Rights
South Africa’s Constitution enshrines the right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion, in alignment with the UN Universal Declaration for Human Rights. This bestows on our country’s leaders a responsibility to promote and protect religious freedoms, not only in South Africa, but throughout the world.
Knowing that persecution on the basis of faith or belief continues to rise in many countries, the IFP is lending its support to the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) as they seek to address this global issue.
Next week, IFP Member of Parliament, the Hon. Mr Narend Singh MP, will be participating in an international capacity building symposium hosted by the IPPFoRB, together with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, in Berlin, Germany. The Symposium will focus on “An Embattled Right: Protecting and Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief ”.
Speaking before the symposium, Mr Singh said, “Working to promote and defend freedom of religion and belief, in a world where this basic human right is under increasing pressure, is of vital importance: not only for me personally, but in particular for the people who regularly face discrimination, persecution and death because of their faith. I look forward to engaging discussions with parliamentarians, legislators and leading academics from around the world who share a commitment to advancing religious freedom.”
The Symposium on 12 and 13 September will be followed by a High Level Political Conference hosted by the German CDU/CSU Party on 14 September. This will be held at the German Bundestag and will be opened by Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Said Singh, “We are grateful to the Konrad Adenuer Stiftung for their involvement in hosting this event. The Stiftung runs some 200 projects in more than 120 countries, advancing civic education and building democracy. South Africa is one of the beneficiaries of this good work.”
Acting on behalf of the IFP, the Hon. Mr Singh will sign several advocacy letters during the Symposium, to government leaders in Eritrea, Pakistan, Sudan, Vietnam and Myanmar, urging these governments to embrace the right to religious freedom. In particular, these letters seek the release, among others, of Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy; Paulos Eyassu, Isaac Mogos, and Negede Teklemariam, who have been held in detention for 20 years for conscientious objection to military service; and the 80 year old Abul Shukoor who was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for selling books on the Ahmadi Muslim faith.
Through the IFP’s parliamentary caucus, these letters will also be brought to the attention of South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation.
The Hon. Mr Narend Singh MP
Parliamentary Chief Whip, Inkatha Freedom Party
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