21Wilberforce Founder and President, Dr. Randel Everett, challenged those attending and watching via livestream yesterday’s powerful program, “Religious Persecution 75 Years after the Holocaust” to listen to stories of oppression and to speak out against the atrocities of persecution. Our organization partnered with the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum on a joint event whose goal was to encourage faith leaders to engage their stakeholders in new ways on atrocity prevention.
Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma (R) and Jacky Rosen of Nevada (D), co-chairs of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, each spoke about the important work of the task force and why they were driven to launch the group in the fall of 2019.
Holocaust survivor Theodora Klayman recalled her family’s experiences after Nazis forces invaded Yugoslavia in 1941. Three-years-old at the time, she was visiting her grandparents in a small Croatian town and survived by hiding with a series of relatives and neighbors. Almost all of her extended family died in concentration camps.
Next, a panel of survivors, moderated by Naomi Kikoler, Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, spoke powerfully and demonstrated that repressed people of multiple faiths can be diversely and mutually targeted. The speakers included Yasmin Ullah, President, Rohingya Human Rights Network; Gum San, President, Kachin Alliance; Nawaf Ashur, Graduate Assistant, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who represented the Yazidis; Loay Mikhael, head of Foreign Relations, Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council; Omer Kanat, Executive Director, Uyghur Human Rights Project; and Bob Fu, Founder and President, ChinaAid.
The program concluded with Dr. Randel Everett asking the audience to join in a campaign to advocate for the Uyghurs, millions of whom are locked in Chinese concentration camps – the largest industrial internment since the Holocaust. The U.S. Senate is working on a bill that would confront this, the Uyghur Human Rights Act 2019.
Senators need your encouragement. Go to 21wfreedom.center and click on campaigns.
The National Prayer Breakfast, a yearly event first held in 1953, is the largest gathering of religious leaders from across America and around the world held in Washington, D.C. The event, which is a series of meetings, luncheons and dinners, is always hosted by two members of Congress, one Democrat and one Republican. It attracts leaders from state capitols, large Christian faith-based NGOs and ministries, international faith leaders, parliamentarians from around the world, and more. For the first time ever, the event had a theme of International Religious Freedom. This represented an unparalleled opportunity to engage leaders with large constituencies on fundamental human rights issues around issues based on faith, belief, or religious identities.