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Asian Churches Prompted to Defend Human Rights on Int'l Human Rights Day

Dec. 10 marks the International Human Rights Day declared by the United Nations to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The Hong Kong-based Christian Conference of Asi
( [email protected] ) Dec 10, 2005 06:11 PM EST

Churches in Asia are prompted to defend human rights on the International Human Rights Day.

Dec. 10 marks the International Human Rights Day declared by the United Nations to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The Hong Kong-based Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) issued a statement to address the day, highlighting the important commission of the churches to help improve the human rights situation in many Asian countries.

According to the statement, Prawate Khid-arn, general secretary of CCA, lamented, "...many Churches are not giving serious attention to promote and advocate human rights concerns, especially defending people's dignity against human rights violations and evil structures of society."

"Quite often the churches forget the fact that it must take positive initiatives to ensure human rights of every person."

Khid-arn has quoted what Eleanor Roosevelt has said about human rights at the beginning of the statement, "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they can not be seen on any maps of the world." Therefore, even in small places such as each of the single churches in Asia, human rights issues must being concerned and discussed.

The general secretary has also explained the defense of human rights as part of the Christian commission, as stating, "The idea of human rights lies at the very core of the biblical narratives. The life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ manifest the worth of every individual.

The emphasis of the Gospel is on the value of all human beings created in the image of God, on the atoning and redeeming work of Christ that gives to human being true dignity."

"In a world filled with glaring absence of human rights and social conflicts, the Church must be aware of the growing need that requires protecting human dignity and human rights at every level of society," Khid-arn declared.

CCA acknowledged that many countries in the world and particularly those in Asia continue to violate the principles stated in UDHR, although it has already been 57 years since its implementation.

CCA therefore prompted the Churches in Asia to "take a firm stand to dedicate themselves with renewed vigor to raise the consciousness of people, to equip them to uphold human rights," as this is part of the "concrete expression of their faith and mission."

On the other hand, according to the statement, CCA urges "all governments to take immediate and serious actions to stop all kind of human rights violations." In addition, for the countries that have not yet ratified the international conventions that affirm the principles of the UDHR, CCA demanded them to follow every provision stated in UDHR.

"We pray that God help us and all nations to stop the human rights violations and may all human beings live in peace, love and harmony," the statement from CCA concluded.

According to the reports from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), many Asian countries are labeled as the world's most serious violators of human rights, such as North Korea, China, Burma, Cambodia and among others. The breach of human rights, very often, includes the oppression of religious freedom.

In an official statement jointly signed by 33 human rights investigators of the United Nations, the experts emphasized that the "prohibition of torture is absolute." The Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak, who recently visited China, has commented that torture in China is still widespread. Many religious prisoners were reportedly abused and mistreated during the detention.