Parliamentarians speak out against religious freedom restrictions in four Asian countries

BANGKOK, THAILAND – Some 30 lawmakers and civil society representatives from the ASEAN member states came together in Bangkok, 6th-7th of October, to discuss new tactics for Freedom of Religion or Belief in Southeast Asia.  The 2 day workshop was organised by the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief and the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.

During the workshop the parliamentarians discussed issues such as inter-religious tensions in Myanmar, identity politics in Malaysia and blasphemy laws in the ASEAN-countries.

They also had the opportunity to sign four Advocacy Letters to political leaders in Myanmar, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The letter to the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar expressed concern about government-directed limitation and discrimination against minority religious and ethnic groups.

Parliamentarians also wrote to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh of the Republic of India requesting him to express a zero-tolerance policy towards vigilante violence against religious minorities, while in a letter to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, parliamentarians urged Indonesia to repeal the blasphemy law and release persons sentenced or awaiting trial for “denigrating religion” or “blasphemy”.

Parliamentarians also wrote to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, urging him to add Malaysia as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to strengthen the country’s commitment to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Read the full letters here: