A coalition of Canadian human rights groups led by One Free World International (OFWI) are calling for Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye to begin a truth and accountability dialogue with Canadians to address human rights concerns. The coalition chose Human Rights Day to reflect on the ongoing systematic persecution of religious minorities and political dissidents in defiance of international law. The coalition also requests a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau to explore opportunities for Canada to be more impactful in advancing the cause of human rights in China.
It is time to build a bridge
I have not stopped thinking about the 49 innocent victims whose lives were savagely cut short in Sunday morning’s terrorist attack in Orlando. I have not stopped thinking about the dozens of people from the LGBTQ community who are receiving the medical care they need and will hopefully recover from this horrendous attack. I have said prayers for the victims and their families. But thoughts and prayers are not enough.
As a Christian and a Reverend, my heart aches for the families and friends who have lost loved ones. A man motivated by homophobic hatred committed this attack as he professed allegiance to ISIS and its radical Islamist ideology. In carrying out the largest terrorist attack on North American soil since 9/11, we must renew our commitment to battling the radical Islamist ideology that wages war in Iraq and Syria. We must battle the evil that has struck closer to home from Ottawa to Orlando, Paris and Brussels.
The attacker targeted the patrons of Pulse nightclub because they were different. As a former refugee who faced persecution for converting to Christianity and being different, I am too familiar with the barbaric lengths those motivated by hate will take against those they view as different.
During this time of sorrow and suffering, now is the time for people of faith to unite with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in love. As a Reverend, for years I have witnessed the perception that LGBTQ people cannot be loved by people in religious communities. While there may be disagreements on certain issues, that does not mean we cannot love each other. In response to these tragic events, people of faith need to reach out to the LGBTQ community and let their brothers and sisters know they are loved. In the aftermath of this tragic loss of precious human life, this cannot be swept under the rug. No one deserves to die to because of who they love, the colour of their skin, or what they believe.
We must come together in defence of each other and our shared values. We must come together and build a bridges between people of faiths and our LGBTQ communities. People of faith need to find the courage to reaffirm our ability to love one another and strengthen our sense of community. The victims of the Orlando attack were targeted for the same reason ISIS targets Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in Iraq and Syria in their aim of carrying out genocide. We are all different in the eyes of the enemy and must confront it together.
We will rely on the strength of our values: the recognition of the dignity of each human life, honesty, respect for human rights, and a determination in ensuring we can all live safely in pursuing our hopes and dreams. We must defend these shared values. And this must start by building new bridges to unite.
Our political and religious leaders need to be forthcoming in condemning this hatred and having the courage to identify its roots. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of other faiths need to speak out to condemn this violence and seize an opportunity to end the historical tension the LGBTQ community has felt for too long, and begin to fight for each other. For if we do not fight for each other, we lose our humanity. After you’ve had some thoughts and said your prayers, it is time to pick up the phone.
OFWI Meets with President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz during Europe Mission
OFWI completes European mission to Brussels, London, and Berlin to give voice to the victims of ongoing Yazidi and Christian genocide in Iraq.
BERLIN – European leaders must do more to halt the ongoing genocide of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. That was the message OFWI President Rev. Majed El Shafie and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Nadia Murad took to political leaders in Brussels, London and Berlin this week.
Rev. Majed El Shafie, Founder and President of One Free World International, himself a victim of physical torture on account of his religious beliefs, delivered an inspiring speech in the European Parliament after meeting President Martin Schulz, last Tuesday 23rd February, 2016.
The event was hosted by Member of the European Parliament, Marian Harkin MEP (Ireland) in the scope of the Freedom of Religion or Belief Intergroup and with the support and collaboration of cross-party members; MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos (Greece), Lars Adaktusson (Sweden), and Lazslo Tokes (Hungary).
The European mission follows whistleblower reports revealed by OFWI and reported in the Toronto Star of a massacre committed in Anbar province by Shia militias after the territory was reclaimed under Iraqi sovereignty from ISIS.
Ms. Harkin MEP set the scene and explained how ‘More than 3,400 women, girls and children remain in captivity under ISIS… we have an obligation to do all we can to recognise these crimes, by member states and the UN’. She went on to explain the recent European Parliament resolution recognising an ongoing genocide by ISIS, and indicated that Mr. Adaktusson would follow-up on a resolution by writing a letter to President Tusk, HR/VP Mogherini and President Schulz, to act on the resolution.
To build upon the work being done both at a legislative and grassroots level, Rev. Majed El Shafie proposed 4 solutions:
- Humanitarian support (medical, sustenance)
- Military security to protect minorities (green zones)
- Maintain security in Europe at the same time as hosting refugees.
- “We have to understand that we are fighting an ideology, not names… we must commit to educating the next generation.”
On the panel for the event we also heard from victim Nadia Murah Taha, who has given testimony at the UN Security Council and elsewhere. Nadia relives and shares her painful account of sexual slavery under ISIS.
She stated: ‘Yazidi’s were given two choices: convert or die. In Mosul, Daesh told us “we have come to wipe you out”. This happened because of our religious identity.’ She then turned to next steps: “This has gone on for 1.5 years, without effective reaction from the international community… My request to everyone is to terminate Daesh - they are a threat to the entire humanity. The International community is not moving, which breaks our hopes.”
Rev. Majed El Shafie referred to the painful testimony of torture and abuse shared by Yazidi victim Ms. Nadia Murad Taha and many others like Nadia and insisted that “this is isn’t about my story or Nadia’s story - it is about the people left behind, facing this persecution” He concluded by stating that “If we stop fighting for each other we as people have lost our humanity”.
Rev. Majed El Shafie also addressed a panel of MP’s and Lords in London February 24 with the support and patronage of Lord David Alton and the All Party Parliamentary Group Freedom Declared, on the legal basis of Genocide where OFWI was able to present a comprehensive report on the current state of play at a European and Global scale.
OFWI’s European Mission concluded with an event in the German Bundestag at an event hosted by Dr Johann Waderphul, Senior MP and rapporteur of the CDU/CSU for the Middle East region.