August 22 was proclaimed as the International Day for Victims of Violence Based on Religion or Belief by the United Nations General Assembly. The day is set in honor of “victims and survivors who often remain forgotten.” In a statement, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland Jacek Czaputowicz stated,
“One-third of the world’s population suffers from some form of religious persecution. Acts of terror are intended to intimidate members of religious communities and, as a result, to hold them back from practicing their faith. In some countries, religious practice is forbidden even at home, and sometimes the representatives of religious minorities are refused religious funerals.”
Violence against religious minorities is an international problem. In both the East and the West, religious groups are targeted based on nothing else other than their expressed beliefs. Public expression of beliefs is thwarted through intimidation and threats of violence. Moreover, many groups face persecution not only in the hands of violent extremism but also by in the hands of systemic discrimination within the legal infrastructure.
Violence based on religious identity is an international issue. Addressing violence against religious groups is especially significant in light of the mobile nature of such groups and the migration of diaspora across national and regional lines. No longer are hate crimes and their motivations relevant to a singular administration. None-the-less, the session highlighted the need for reform of policies that perpetuate violence and hinder justice for religious minorities.
The adopted resolution seeks to raise awareness of the importance of religious diversity. Within the session, national representatives warned against the provocation of hateful rhetoric, called on the prosecution of perpetrators of violence and reform of repressive legislation, pushed for recognition of xenophobia and racism, and the concession of resources to counter hate.
During the session, the case of the Rohingya in Myanmar, Yazidis in Iraq, Uyghur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs in China and Christians in non-Christian nations were mentioned. Shia Rights Watch notes that in addition to the groups mentioned, the case of Shia Muslims must be acknowledged in efforts to counter violence based on religious beliefs.
Shia Muslims are residents of the international community. Shia Rights Watch estimates Shia Islam to be the largest minority group in the world, and one of the largest religious identities in the Middle East. Yet, violence against the religious group has been long neglected.
On this day, Shia Rights Watch renews its vow to advocate for violence against Shia Muslims in addition to other religious groups and calls on the international community to acknowledge adversity faced by religious groups, especially hardships faces by the international Shia population.