MPs David Anderson & Garnett Genuis host 6th Annual Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom

April 5, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON – David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills-Grasslands and Official Opposition Critic for International Human Rights and Religious Freedom, and Deputy Critic Garnett Genuis, Member of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, successfully hosted the 6th Annual Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom on the evening of April 3rd.

David Anderson and Garnett Genuis pose with speakers at the 6th Annual Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom. From L to R: David Mulroney, Joel Chipkar, Rukiye Turdush, Andrew Bennett, Garnett Genuis, Carole Samdup, Anastasia Lin, David Anderson.

“It’s hard to believe that we would be standing here six years after the first of our parliamentary forums,” said Anderson. “It speaks to the enduring importance and value of a discussion on religious freedom in Canada. Monday’s presenters and sold-out attendance prove that Canadians are engaged and eagerly want to discuss this important issue. Canada can be a candle in a dark room, especially with nations like China, which has an increased responsibility to promote human rights as it develops its economy.”

The night began with an academic perspective from former Ambassador of Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett (Senior Research Fellow with the Religious Freedom Research Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University); and former Ambassador of Canada to China, Mr. David Mulroney (President & Vice-Chancellor, University of St. Michael’s College). They provided their professional and first-hand perspective on the ongoing restrictions on freedom of belief and religion.

The panel that followed featured presentations by representatives of many of China’s religious or ethnic minority communities:

  • Mr. Joel Chipkar (Spokesperson, Falun Dafa Association of Canada) spoke of the Chinese campaign of imprisonment, torture, and organ harvesting inflicted on Falun Dafa and the Chinese regime’s campaigns of misinformation to hide this reality.
  • Ms. Carole Samdup (Executive Director, Canada Tibet Committee) spoke of the politically-motivated restrictions on Tibetans’ religious freedom and way of life. Samdup made specific reference to the demolition and evictions at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute and called on the Government of Canada to make a public statement of condemnation.
  • Ms. Rukiye Turdush (former spokesperson of East Turkistan Government in Exile, Diplomacy and Human Rights Office), from the Uyghur community, spoke of the strict control of Islamic traditions, as well as the unwarranted search and seizure of homes by the Chinese regime.

To conclude the evening, Anastasia Lin (Award Winning Actress, Reigning Miss World Canada and Human Rights Advocate) provided the keynote address. Speaking from her own experience as someone persecuted (and whose family has been persecuted) for her beliefs, Lin stated that the “human spirit, power of imagination and spirit of creativity” of believers cannot be suppressed despite attempts to “censor the heart and silence the media.”

“Anastasia’s optimism and perseverance in the face of intimidation is inspiring,” said Garnett Genuis. “Her first address to a Parliamentary audience has sent waves through the human rights community and is sure to inspire further advocacy for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief in China.”

For more information on this year’s Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom, including photos, click here.

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