There are continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals, including against persons belonging to religious communities and religious minorities around the world, and the number and intensity of such incidents, which are often of a criminal nature and may have international characteristics, are increasing.
That is why the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/73/296, titled “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” strongly condemning continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief.
“Commemorating the many victims of violence based on religion or belief is critical, but only the first step,” says United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Chair Gayle Manchin. “The international community must work together to achieve justice for the survivors of past abuses by holding perpetrators accountable, and demonstrating to government that action must be taken to ‘never again’ tolerate genocide or other atrocities.”
Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing. They are enshrined in articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Upholding these rights plays an important role in the fight against all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.
The open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national, regional and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.
Furthermore, the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.
The Member States reaffirmed their unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomsoever committed, regardless of their motivation, and reiterated that terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.
In order to properly recognize this day, we must shed light on the continuing attacks by states and non-state actors on religious groups all over the world,” stated USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins. “This includes the genocide of Yazidis, Christians, and Shi’a Muslims in Iraq and Syria by ISIS, abuses against Uyghurs in China, and mass atrocities against Rohingya Muslims and Christians in Burma.”