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August 22 to be celebrated in honour of victims of religious violence: UN

August 22 to be celebrated in honour of victims of religious violence: UN

The UN General Assembly has declared August 22 as the International Day for Victims of Religious Violence to combat hate crimes and persecution on the basis of beliefs. Recalling the wave of attacks that targeted a mosque in New Zealand, and churches in Sri Lanka during Easter Sunday services, Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, who introduced the resolution on Tuesday, said that the international day will honour the victims and survivors of religious violence who are often forgotten.

“We hope that it will help combat hate crimes and acts of violence related to religion or belief, and will further strengthen inter-religious dialogue,” he said. The resolution is not focused on victims of any particular religion or belief and seeks to raise respect for religious diversity, Czaputowicz said.  Pakistan, along with the US, was one of the nine sponsors of the resolution. During the discussion of the resolution, the US and China clashed over Washington’s criticism of Beijing’s treatment of its Muslim minority.

The Acting US Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, Austin Smith, said that in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region “more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang have been arbitrarily detained in camps since April 2017. There are disturbing reports of forced labour, torture, and deaths in these camps.

“Chinese authorities are restricting religious freedom by labelling peaceful religious practices as manifestations of ‘religious extremism and terrorism’,” he added. He asked UN members to ask China to close its camps and respect the rights of Muslims, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners.

China’s delegate called the US allegations unfounded and said that what were described as camps were, in fact, vocational and educational training centres to help minorities learn skills that can help them fight poverty.  He, in turn, hurled a counter-accusation against the US asserting that at the recent Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues many speakers had accused the US government of killing its own indigenous peoples, extinguishing their languages and oppressing their voices.




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