RLP News

Assassinated Bhatti Would Have Been Keynote Speaker at Religious Liberty Conference in Washington DC

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Religious freedom organizations united under the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) have released a statement condemning the recent death of Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, and calling for immediate action from Pakistan's government and the international community.

“This statement is the very least we can do to pick up the mantle and uphold the memory of our friend Shahbaz Bhatti , who was to have been a keynote speaker at this year’s Religious Liberty Partnership Conference in Virginia,” says Mervyn Thomas, CEO of Christian Solidarity Worldwide in the UK, and Chairman of the Religious Liberty Partnership.

In what is referred to as, “The Virginia Statement on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the RLP calls on Pakistan's government “to establish a judicial inquiry into the murders of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer,” as well as to “release and publicize the resulting report.”  Additional recommendations include implementing measures to prevent misuse of the Blasphemy Laws, and to work toward the abolition of the controversial law.

“During his life, [Bhatti] achieved much for all religious minorities in Pakistan, and his campaign to outlaw the notorious blasphemy laws were certainly in tune with the pluralistic ideals of the country’s founding father Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah,” Thomas says, “We hope and pray the Pakistani authorities, the international community, and the worldwide Church will take the necessary action to ensure Shahbaz Bhatti’s death will not have been in vain.”

 The Religious Liberty Partnership, with member organizations in 20 countries, is calling on the international community to recognize the plight of Pakistani Christians, and other minority believers in what the statement deems an “epicenter of religious intolerance.”

Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the Religious Liberty Commission for the World Evangelical Alliance, and member of the Religious Liberty Partnership Leadership Team, says that “Shahbaz Bhatti paid the supreme price with his life for standing up and speaking up for the poor, marginalized and the persecuted.”  He adding that, “if the spiraling trend of violence are not dealt with immediately it will result in a breakdown of law and order and the very fabric of Pakistani society could crumble causing instability and anarchy.”

RLP Community Mourns Pakistan's Man of Courage

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The RLP is greiving the tragic news of the assassination last week of Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister of Minority Affairs and Human Rights in Pakistan.   According to sources, Mr. Bhatti came to see his sick mother and the moment he went out from his mother's residence to attend a Federal Cabinet meeting, unknown attackers shot him dead in a hail of bullets.  Minister Bhatti was a courageous challenger of the Blasphemy laws in Pakistan where Christians have been prosecuted for professing and practicing their faith. 

U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement saying, "[Minister Bhatti] was clear-eyed about the risks of speaking out, and, despite innumerable death threats, he insisted he had a duty to his fellow Pakistanis to defend equal rights and tolerance from those who preach division, hate, and violence."

Mr. Bhatti was a friend, colleague, and inspiration to many, and was scheduled to speak on Pakistan at the upcoming RLP Conference in Washington, DC.   Several RLP members have released statements and press releases on this devasting news.  As as one leader said to us, "this is more than tragic".

Here is a video link from a recent interview with Mr. Bhatti on his perspective of the death threats he'd been receiving.

Lausanne Congress Statement

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The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, held this past fall in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together over 4,000 leaders from nearly 200 countries.  In January, it issued the Cape Town Commitment: A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action, emanating from the Congress. Though 56 page document addresses several key things, it does focus on the expression of high ethical standards for sharing one's faith, the need to integrate suffering and persecution into our theology of mission, and the endorsement of religious liberty advocacy in its relationship to Christian witness.

Please CLICK HERE for an interview with Dr Christof Sauer, a director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom a member of the Religious Liberty Partnership.  Dr. Sauer participated in the Cape Town Congress and had submitted drafts and comments of the sections in the Cape Town Commitment related to religious liberty.


Liu Xiaobo wins 2010 Nobel Peace Prize

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Noted human rights activist Liu Xiaobo was been awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.  The following report from RLP member, Jubliee Campaign:

Liu Xiaobo is a longtime Chinese human rights advocate and democracy activist.  During the late 80s when the Tiananmen Square protests cost China so many young lives, Liu Xiaobo negotiated a peaceful withdrawal of many of the students.  This man's efforts for reform culminated in the writing of 'Charter 08' a document calling for democracy and basic human rights in China.  Because of his pivotal role in writing the document, the authoritarian government of China gave Liu Xiaobo an 11-year prison sentence.

This was par for the course in Communist China, and no one outside the human rights community paid much attention. But then the Nobel Peace Prize Committee announced that it had selected Liu Xiaobo as the 2010 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  All eyes turned to China and the world remembered that in practice Chinese citizens have no human rights.

Despite a government ban on the news, many throughout China are celebrating.  Unfortunately this has spawned a new wave of arrests as the Chinese government tries to stamp out what it sees as insurrection.  China Aid reports that several leaders have been detained and dozens of others have been interrogated or put under surveillance.

This brings home a sobering point.  The totalitarian government of China is still in power.  They are still oppressing people. Liu Xiaobo is still in prison and may not even know that he has won the Nobel Peace Prize.  But now more than ever the people of China need our prayers.  We need to pray that someday China will be a place where the gospel is freely preached and our brothers and sisters in Christ can live in peace.  If such a day occurs it will come because of the efforts of Liu Xiaobo and others like him.

RLP Launches Early Warning Task Group

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Coming out of the 2010 Cyprus Conference of the Religious Liberty Partnership, an Early Warning Task Group was established by the RLP to assist its members in being more alert to possible new or more intense threats to religious liberty.  RLP Chairman, Mervyn Thomas, CEO of CSW, UK, said that "this Task Group gives us all an ability to assess threats and monitor situations of increasing persecution problems.  That is, we are doing things together that we cannot do by ourselves, and that is the whole design of the partnership."

This week, the Early Warning Task Group met by conference call and set an emerging strategy by which they can develop the systems needed for this important project.  For more information, contact, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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