UN: New International Day for victims of religious persecution

Good News! The United Nations has declared August 22 as the International Day [for] Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

The General Assembly said in its draft resolution that it is “seriously concerned at continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals” and condemned “all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief”.

“This is wonderful news”, said Gary Stagg, Executive Director, Open Doors Canada. “Freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental human right - and no one should suffer violence or discrimination on the basis of religion or belief. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and the issues faced by the persecuted church are real and deserving attention. We urge the United Nations, the international community, and leaders of each country to use this resolution as a foundation to bring about real change and to move beyond awareness to impacting the lives of vulnerable religious individuals.”

Ewelina Ochab, a veteran researcher for UN reports and a human-rights activist who concentrates on the persecution of minorities, wrote May 28 in Forbes that with violence based on religion or belief being a growing problem, establishing such a day was “a historic step” with “great potential”.

“Until now, there has been no UN-led day focused exclusively on religiously motivated violence (or any other aspects of freedom of religion or belief)”, she wrote. “Furthermore, the day is intended to provide a springboard towards an action plan that addresses the growing issue of violence based on religion or belief”. It is not a goal in itself but a means to an end, she stressed.

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. We welcome this clear statement from the United Nations that persecution on the basis of religion or belief cannot be permitted and the victims must never be forgotten. All people have the right to peacefully live out their faith,” said Kelsey Zorzi, President of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the United Nations and Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International.

The decision by the UN General Assembly follows reports that Christians are the most persecuted religious group, according to a review commissioned by the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.


Please pray:

That the day is used for more than just awareness. Pray that it will inspire people of influence to bring impactful change for those who face violence for their faith.

The issues faced by the persecuted church are be brought to the attention of the world.

That our brothers and sisters who cannot speak up for themselves will have many more voices standing up on their behalf as a result of this declaration.