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Press Release: Celebrating Human Rights Day 2015 and ASEAN Community: Promoting Freedom of Religion and Beliefs, Nurturing Tolerance in ASEAN

Film Screening & 5th Public Discussion on Human Rights in ASEAN

7 December 2015

Erasmus Huis Jakarta

Through the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD, it is recognised that “every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. All forms of intolerance, discrimination and incitement of hatred based on religion and beliefs shall be eliminated” (Article 22). Thus, the AHRD does not only recognise freedom of religion and beliefs in ASEAN as enshrined in United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, also calls for elimination of intolerance, discrimination and all forms of violence based on any religious means. Mr. Rafendi Djamin highlighted the idea as he officiates the Public Discussion on “Freedom of Religion & Beliefs, and the Challenges of Intolerance in ASEAN”.

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As Representative of Indonesia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Mr. Rafendi Djamin hosted the Public Discussion in conjunction with Human Rights Day, which is celebrated on 10 December every year. It was convened with the general objective to raise awareness and engagement of national stakeholders and the general public on human rights issues of concern to ASEAN as a region. The event brought together over ninety (90) participants – coming from government institutions, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), students and academes, national and regional NGOs, as well as members of the diplomatic corps in Jakarta.

Prior to the Discussion, participants were treated with a screening of ‘Timbuktu’ – a film that was based on true events derived by religious extremism, and was nominated for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the 2015 Academy Awards.

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The Discussion welcomed honourable guest speaker H.E. Abdurrahman M. Fachir, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, and also Prof. Dr. H.M. Machasin, MA, Director-General for Islamic Community Guidance, Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia. Both speakers underlined that tolerance amongst the pluralistic society has shaped and united Indonesia as a nation, which dates back before the colonial times. Moreover, Indonesia has been active internationally in promoting interfaith as well as intra-faith dialogues – to safeguard, among others, tolerance and the freedom to embrace one’s religion or belief. Such characteristics of this country should be able to meet the emerging challenges on intolerance and violence in Indonesia, as well as ASEAN. In the digital era of social media, the speakers call upon the young generations to highlight positive posts in order to uphold tolerance in society.

In the ASEAN context, Mr. Rafendi Djamin highlighted that Indonesia has been promoting the issue of freedom of religion and beliefs to be undertaken as a priority of the AICHR. Indeed, the ‘implementation of article 22 of the AHRD on freedom of religion and beliefs’ has been adopted as part of the AICHR’s Priority Programmes/Activities for 2016, where Indonesia will be the lead country in realising the programme. This activity is in line with the new ASEAN Political-Security Community Vision-2025: Embed the culture of peace, including the values of tolerance and moderation as a force for harmony, peace and stability in our region and beyond”. It is also hoped that points from the Discussion could act as reference for the Representative of Indonesia in formulating the concept of such programme.

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The Discussion was the 5th and last of the series of Public Discussion and Debate on human rights in ASEAN – a collaboration between the Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. For Mr. Rafendi Djamin, it was the final event of the year in his capacity as Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR, before completing his mandate. He expressed his high appreciation to H.E. Rob Swartbol, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Indonesia, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, for a fruitful and constructive partnership in organising the Public Discussion and Debate series, and their generous support for AICHR Indonesia.

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