The U.N. General Assembly has dedicated August 22 to drawing attention to those afflicted by violence based on their religion or belief.
Marking the first International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres stated, “we reaffirm our unwavering support for the victims of violence based on religion and belief. And we demonstrate that support by doing all in our power to prevent such attacks and demanding that those responsible are held accountable.”
In a statement concerning the event, the U.N. said, “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.”
“STAND and its many members and supporters will continue to do their utmost to end bigotry and hate.”
“Any infringement upon the free exercise of the right to religion or belief—whether against an individual, a group, or an entire region or nation—undermines the liberties and inherent rights of all,” said STAND International Director Edward Parkin. “STAND applauds the work of those drawing attention to this sacred right, and the tragedy that can come from its violation.”
Through open discourse aimed at helping people and improving conditions in society, Parkin said, religions play a powerful role in building understanding, while also combating and reducing the hatred and acts of violence that have saturated the news in recent months. “STAND and its many members and supporters will continue to do their utmost to end bigotry and hate—and thus to uplift society so all are free to worship and believe as they choose,” he said.
A serious need for action exists, as the U.N.’s statement acknowledged: “There are continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief … and the number and intensity of such incidents, which are often of a criminal nature … are increasing.”