Bishop Declan Lang signs letter on Religious Freedom in Iraq

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Bishop Declan Lang is one of a number of UK-based religious leaders who have signed a letter calling on the international community to send “a clear signal of intent” to the militants committing atrocities in northern Iraq.

Bishop Lang is the Chair of the Bishops’ Conference department for International Affairs.

Full Text

“What we are witnessing in Northern Iraq today is a tragedy of historic proportions in which thousands of innocent people are at immediate risk of death for no other reason than their religious beliefs. Freedom of religion and belief, a right set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is being denied in the most gross and systemic way possible through the attempted extermination of religious minorities. There is no religious justification for the violation of this inalienable human right.

“Such violations as are currently taking place are crimes against humanity that must be both stopped and punished. The culture of impunity within which these dehumanising atrocities have been committed needs to be challenged most vigorously. Given that Iraq is not a state party to the International Criminal Court, the Government must now work towards a United Nations Security Council Resolution that refers this matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation and where necessary prosecution. The international community must send a clear signal of intent to those who are committing such atrocities that at some point they will be held accountable for their actions.

“These violations are, however, sadly part of a wider global pattern of increased societal hostility and government restrictions against freedom of religion or belief. Governments, international institutions and non-governmental organisations need to recognise this wider crisis and commit the necessary time, energy and resources to ensure greater respect for this fundamental freedom in order to attempt to forestall such further tragedies.”

The Rt Revd Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
Chairman, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Commissioner Clive Adams
Territorial Commander, Salvation Army

His Grace Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson
Bishop of Bedford

Dayan (Judge) Ivan Binstock
Court of the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

The Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth
Lord Bishop of Coventry
Church of England’s Lead Bishop on Foreign Affairs

Malcolm M Deboo
President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe

His Eminence Gregorios
Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism

Ayatollah Dr Sayed Fazel Milani
Imam al-Khoei Islamic Centre, London

Ramesh Pattni
Secretary General, Hindu Forum of Britain

Moulana Mohammad Shahid Raza, OBE
Principal Imam, Leicester Central Mosque, Leicester

Dr Shuja Shafi
Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain

Lord Singh of Wimbledon
Vice-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion and Belief

Article in The Telegraph on the religious leaders’ Iraq letter
Section on the crisis in Iraq