LONDON - Last week, more than 100 MPs showed support for human rights improvements in Sri Lanka, Eritrea and Peru by signing three different parliamentary motions.
David Drew, Labor MP for Stroud, worked with Parliamentary Officer of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Dr Alan Hobson, to produce the three Early Day Motions (EDMs). Though EDMS are not generally expected to be debated, it is hoped to raise awareness of the issues.
The EDM on Sri Lanka highlights the large number of attacks upon evangelical Christian churches over the last two years. According to CSW, there were 91 attacks on Christians and churches in 2003 and there have been 45 attacks so far this year. Over the past year, 140 churches have been forced to close due to actual attacks or intimidation. It was also noted with concern that virtually no assailants are ever charged following these attacks. The EDM calls upon the Sri Lankan Government to give full protection to religious minorities, to bring to justice those found to have participated in attacks upon religious minorities, and to promote genuine and lasting inter-faith harmony in Sri Lanka.
The EDM on Peru draws attention to many unjust imprisonments during the 1980s and early 1990s. Thousands of people were convicted during the struggles between the Peruvian Government and the Shining Path and MRTA terrorist groups. But many of these prisoners were found to be innocent. It calls upon the Peruvian Government to bring to account all those who were responsible for crimes against humanity and give adequate funding to the Ministry of Justice so that prisoners who may be innocent and who have been in prison for upwards of 10 years can have their cases reviewed and, where merited, receive full pardons.
The EDM on Eritrea focuses on the severe persecution of evangelical Christians who were arrested, beaten and tortured by the Eritrean regime over the past two years. According to CSW, some 400 people are still in prison, and the regime has arrested whole families simply for reasons such as having a Bible or meeting together as Christians. It calls upon the Government to honor the international human rights treaties to which it is a party; and urges the British Government to place these concerns at the heart of bilateral talks with Eritrea.
CSW is continuing to encourage supporters to sign the three EDMs.
"The success of these motions shows an increasing recognition in Parliament of the subjugation of Christians around the world. EDMs help to highlight this and other human rights abuses, and on the back of that people can work to change things for the better," said Drew.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW commented, "It is very encouraging to see the widespread cross-party support for these motions highlighting injustices around the world. CSW hopes this will encourage the UK government to put pressure on these regimes to improve their record on human rights and religious freedom."