One of the world’s leading international “think-tanks”, London’s Chatham House was the venue for the launch of an AMAR report which provides practical ways in which the United Nations and its member states, together with international NGOs and civil society organisations, can prevent the often horrific, life-changing consequences of religious persecution and genocide.
Over the last three years – twice inside Windsor Castle, and this July at Cumberland Lodge in the Windsor Great Park – we have brought together faith leaders from around the world to contribute to the report, which is backed by our Patron, the former Prince of Wales.
Chairman and Founder, Baroness Nicholson said something had to be done to tackle “The horrors” of religious persecution.
“AMAR’s all-Iraqi teams of medical professionals have witnessed the terrible consequences of religious persecution against the poor Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped, tortured, and held as slaves by the monsters of Daesh/ISIS. Thousands of Yazidi men were murdered, and their women raped, beaten and humiliated,” she explained.
“As our supporters will know, we have been providing medical care and psychiatric and psychological support for many thousands of these poor, peaceful people, but we are also absolutely determined to prevent this genocidal behaviour ever happening again. The Yazidis have been subjected to 74 genocides over the centuries, purely because of the mistaken belief that they are devil worshippers. Utter nonsense of course, but it was used as a justification to try and wipe them out,” added the Baroness.
AMAR believes the recognition by other faith groups of Yazidism as a world religion would help mitigate against further systematic persecution and genocide.
One of the main contributors to the report, The Lord Bishop of Derby, the Rt.Rev.Alastair Redfern believes this recognition is critical to not only preventing the persecution of the Yazidi community, but also helping transform attitudes amongst the world’s other great religions towards communities persecuted because of faith.
AMAR’s report considers how communities both persecuted and marginalised – in all contexts – can learn from the successes and experiences of notable case studies, amongst others, the Latter-Day Saints (LDS), Native Americans, Ahmadis and Huguenots.
In each case, these communities have been able to mobilise spiritual and material resources to help overcome persecution and achieve, to varying degrees of success, reintegration.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the packed audience at Chatham House that the key to the survival of Mormons in early 19th Century America was their faith.
“Our identity and faith carried us through half a century of persecution. Their shared faith also created a strong sense of community, inviting them to support each other during their trials,” added Elder Holland. “By preserving a person’s faith, we help preserve their future.
The Chatham House event was also attended by the report’s co-author Neil Quilliam, and other report contributors, including the Cumberland Lodge Principal, Canon Dr Edmund Newell; Dr Ali Muthanna, AMAR’s General Director in Iraq; Sharon Eubank, President of LDS Charities; The Rt Rev. the Lord Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway; and other leading officials of the LDS Church.