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More than 60 Church leaders, journalist, advocates and human rights activists took part in three days advocacy training held in Kathmandu.

The training dealt with biblical perspective on human rights and social justice, general United Nations human rights system and basic advocacy strategies.

Training was organized by Religious Liberty Forum and hosted by ITEEN with the Support from World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA LRC) on 25-27 August 2015. A delegation of five team members from National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL); General Secretary- Godfrey Yogarajah, Director for Missions- Mahesh De Mel, Media & Communications- Jovita Arulanantham, Research and Prayer coordinator- Mike Gabriel and Legal and Advocacy Coordinator- Yamini Ravindran facilitated the entire training sessions.

 

During the course of training, most of the Church leaders shared practical difficulties that Churches are facing in context of current Nepalese legal system today. And they found the training very useful and eye opening to raise the voice for their issues.

One of the participants Mr. Raju Pradhan said, “This training has brought awareness on Church leaders about practicing their freedom of religion and belief without putting down others.”

“But in context of Nepal, normally people demands their rights haphazardly, however, I believe at least our Church leaders, now has understood that, demanding rights needs systematic advocacy strategies” – Pradhan added.

A severe concern raised that there is need of drawing attention of public on Nepalese Constitution draft article 26 (3) to make them realize, how this clause can criminalize their spiritual life.

Addressing to the participants, member of Constitution Assembly (CA), Lok Mani Dhakal said, “Current issue of secularism with full religious freedom need to be institutionalized despite of situation of intense political pressures from the neighbours over the CA.

“I will be standing for assurance of religious freedom and belief in any circumstances, and therefore, I need your constructive suggestions constantly.”

Pastor Tanka Subedi, an organizer of the event also agrees that such advocacy training is very much require for the Christian leaders as minority religious groups to stay safe and protected.

“Our pastors, media personals and advocates needed awareness on human rights and advocacy perspectives on religion and I hope they have it now,” Subedi expressed his satisfaction.

For the last six decades, Nepal constitution has been amended frequently due to the substantial changes on political system. However, until today people in Nepal is unable to get a full democratic and public friendly constitution. The issues of religious freedom has been constantly underprivileged in such constitutions of all time.

According to Subedi, a group of minority religions has been involving in preparation of joint submission on behalf of Freedom of Religion and Belief in Universal Periodic Review (UPR) lately. A delegation is further planning to attend lobby and advocacy meetings in Geneva soon.

UPR is a United Nations human rights system that brings every UN member state to review its human rights situation once in every four and half year periodically. END

Also available at: http://nepalchurch.com/9829/teaching-human-rights-advocating-for-religious-freedom/

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