2021 International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief: We Must Be Vigilant

Alessandro Amicarelli, FOB Chairman

by Alessandro Amicarelli — Today is 2021 International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

Whilst most international observers are posing their eyes on the future of Afghanistan under the rule of talibans, few observe the limitations to human rights and other fundamental freedoms in some democratic countries.

Among the largest democracies of the world, both India and Pakistan are responsible for violations of human rights and freedom of religion and belief of their citizens and residents at different levels.

Also in the European continent there are situations of concern.

Whilst the United Kingdom is well-known to be on the frontline to defend and ensure freedom of religion and belief to all, the same cannot be said for instance about France that is home to FECRIS, the Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults, which is particularly active lobbying legislators, both in France and abroad, to pass illiberal bills against religious and spiritual minorities in the name of the French-style secularism called "laïcité" and disregarding the French motto "Liberté, Egalité, Fratenité", downgraded to an empty slogan.

Over the years, France passed a number of laws aimed at destroying religious and spiritual minorities, damaging a number of groups, belonging to both mainstream and new religious or spiritual traditions.

Recently France is busy trying to stop so-called "separatism", historically called "communitarism".

Dragging our attention back to Asia, today Human Rights Without Frontiers in cooperation with Cesnur, Center for the Study of New Religion, has organised two Seminars on Administrative Violence and the Tai Jin Men case, which has denounced a tax case involving the peaceful QiGong group Tai Ji Men. A 25-year long court case concluded in favour of Tai Ji Men stating that there was no tax evasion, nor any other charge and the group was totally clear. Nonetheless, corrupted officials keep demanding the payment of a bill for tax year 1992, which Tai Ji Men refuse to pay as undue basing on the Courts decision, and mainly for a matter of principle rather than for the amount of the bill itself. As a consequence, properties were confiscated and the peaceful life of this organisation, praised nationally and internationally, has been compromised. Taiwan is a democratic country with a strong relation with the US and other countries that are particularly keen to protect the rights falling under the sphere of freedom of religion and belief, and for this reason the persecution of Tai Ji Men is totally unclear and unacceptable, and must be stopped as we are asking internationally as scholars, professionals, activists and in other roles too.

These cases testimony that we must be vigilant because all countries, also democracies, can commit dangers against religious and spiritual minorities that, on the contrary, deserve respect and their freedoms acknowledged, while obviously themselves comply with the law and rules in their respective territories. Our wish and hope is that peace and justice will prevail for all individuals and groups facing struggles or persecution anywhere in the world.