Report raises questions on human rights

Published on Friday, 3 January 2014 22:14 - Written by By Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

Human Rights Without Frontiers International released a disturbing report earlier this week that brings into question the United Nations’ commitment to its own list of human rights.

The UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Article 18 of that document reads that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

But ironically, the U.N. Human Rights Council has just allowed countries with alleged religious rights violations — Morocco, China and Saudi Arabia — to join the U.N. Human Rights Council. This is on top of other alleged violators who are already members of the council: India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya and South Korea.

All of these countries imprisoned people in 2013 for breaking laws that restrict religious freedom.

This has many rights-watchers around the world shaking their heads.

Maybe the right to freely practice religion is getting glossed over because it isn’t as universal as others; after all, not everyone believes in a higher power.

But it is just as important.

Over the course of history, people have fled their home countries over their passion for worshipping freely.

Others who have been trapped in excruciating circumstances clung to their faith when there was nothing else to hold onto.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, you can’t deny that it often motivates people to do incredible things. Yes, all faiths have a few who have twisted it into something dark. But for the most part faith is an incredible source of light and life to billions of people.

Let’s hope the United Nations renews their commitment to freedom for all people to practice their faith, no matter how vocal the opponents might be.