IRF Summit 2023: 21Wilberforce Engagements
21Wilberforce was an organizational partner for the third annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit held in Washington, DC from January 30th to February 1st. A coalition of organizations and individuals working for the cause of religious freedom around the world attended the event. Work session content was organized within four tracks: defending, documenting, developing, and denying religious freedom. Hundreds of attendees gathered to learn, to connect, and to shape the future of IRF advocacy work. As in years past, the personal testimonies of survivors of religious persecution brought attention to the plight of persecuted individuals. What follows is a brief synopsis of 21Wilberforce team involvement during the Summit.
Pre-Summit Congressional Advocacy Week
Trent Martin, 21Wilberforce Advocacy and Training Coordinator, and our three Associates joined a multi-faith coalition of organizations that briefed over 60 members of the new U.S. Congress on key international religious freedom issues. Read more here.
In-Person International Religious Freedom Roundtable
The first in-person gathering of the IRF Roundtable in three years was hosted in the Senate Dirksen Office Building. Trent Martin, 21Wilberforce’s Advocacy and Training Coordinator, joined a panel of fellow leaders to share about the work of the Congressional Working Group. He highlighted some of the prominent legislative wins that 21Wilberforce and the Congressional Working Group supported over the last year, including the reauthorization of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Burma Act, and the revitalization of the IRF Caucus in the House.
USCIRF Commissioners Town Hall: Women and Freedom of Religion or Belief
FoRB Women’s Alliance, a program initiative of 21Wilberforce, collaborated with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom for an IRF Summit 2023 townhall to kick off the Summit on the topic of women and freedom of religion or belief. Read more here.
Collaborative Workshop on Effective Congressional Advocacy
As an official IRF Summit 2023 side event, 21Wilberforce led an interactive workshop attended by over 40 advocates, faith leaders and officials. The session provided an opportunity to collectively analyze their current congressional efforts, hone their approach to effective engagement with Congress and build stronger coalitions within the IRF movement that will lead to tangible action and results. Read more here.
Burma Prayer Service21Wilberforce staff joined faith leaders and advocates from Burma, the United States and around the world to pray for the people of Myanmar at the 2-year mark of the military junta’s coup. Prayers were especially offered for Pastor Hkalam Samson and Pastor Thian Lian Sang, both are prisoners of conscience. Trent Martin offered a short reflection and prayer during the service.
Youth-Led Projects Defend Religious Freedom in Myanmar
Trent Martin led a session that marked the two-year anniversary of the Burmese military junta’s coup. Ambassador Samuel Brownback, MP Fiona Bruce from the UK, and Ambassador Robert Kehak from the Czech Republic gave short remarks to kick off the session. One of the issues highlighted was the importance of young adults learning from global IRF leaders. Read more here.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
More than five dozen Christians remain in Thailand, where they fear deportation to China unless they are granted refugee status by the United Nations or humanitarian parole by the United States. Read more here.
Facing persecution and economic decline, seven leaders share perspectives on a vote that will “make or mar” the future of a religiously divided nation. Christian leaders in Nigeria are convinced: The outcome of the Presidential election is crucial. Read more here.