The Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference (SEAFoRB), an annual assembly of religious freedom advocates, human rights groups, academics and policymakers, resumed its 2020 series of webinars today in Bangkok, Thailand.
SEAFoRB announced that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference would be held online instead of the usual in-person gathering.
Aimed at discussing current trends in issues surrounding religious freedom for all, the conference consists of three online events jointly hosted by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University in Utah and the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C.
The topic of the first was “The Place of Freedom of Religion in the Development Agenda of ASEAN.” ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional group of 11 countries including Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Timor-Leste and the Philippines.
This webinar was aimed at exploring how religious freedom can help cultivate a social and regulatory environment that enables individuals and communities to facilitate the achievement of issues ranging from poverty alleviation to improved public health. Panelists at the webinar focused on SEAFoRB’s contributions in building resilient communities designed to endure future uncertainties, and how the organization can interact with public-sector institutions to further their mission. For those who missed the webinar and would like to watch it, it is available on the International Center for Law and Religion Studies YouTube channel.
The next webinar, “The Place of Freedom of Religion or Belief in Fostering Social Inclusion, Peace, and Peaceful Coexistence in ASEAN,” is scheduled for November 17. It will explore how freedom of religion or belief can create an environment in which religious individuals, groups and others can help fight the scourge of religious bigotry, hateful extremism, harassment, shame and blame “that all too often falls on marginalized religious minorities in ASEAN.”
The webinar will also “provide a platform for addressing underlying sources of inequality and unjust treatment of targeted minorities in ASEAN, such as refugees, displaced persons, or otherwise disadvantaged groups.”
Also November 17 is a third webinar moderated by the CEO and president of BPSOS (Boat People SOS), an organization that has rescued more than 35,000 Vietnamese boat people from the high seas or from some 20 countries where they were trafficked. This webinar is “The Struggle of Organized Religions in Inherently Anti-Religious Regimes: The Cases of Vietnam and Laos.”
These events come close on the heels of the October 20 webinar on the COVID-19 pandemic, “The Impact of Corona Crisis on Human Rights and FoRB in Southeast Asia,” which focused on these issues:
- How fundamental freedoms may have been illegitimately restricted in the region amid COVID-19
- How hate speech has proliferated in the region during the pandemic, and
- COVID-19 related hate speech and guidance to address and counter it.
Those wishing to register for the conferences should fill out the form on Freedom of Religion or Belief for Southeast Asia website, found here.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.