La semana pasada, el Oficial de Defensa de América Latina de CSW detalló la cultura de impunidad que obstaculiza la protección y la promoción de la libertad de religión o de creencias (LdRC) en México. En este post le ponemos una cara humana a los efectos de la respuesta inadecuada del gobierno a las violaciones de LdRC, para mostrar lo que le sucede a las personas cuando las autoridades retrasan o descuidan sus responsabilidades de proteger a las minorías religiosas.
Un caso que ilustra la cultura profundamente arraigada de la impunidad que rodea los ataques a las minorías religiosas en México es el de la comunidad de Yashtinin en el municipio de San Cristóbal de las Casas en el estado de Chiapas.
Todo comenzó en 2012, cuando varias personas se
convirtieron a otra religión diferente a la mayoritaria. Algunos miembros de la
comunidad temían que esta nueva religión dañara sus costumbres y tradiciones y
afectara negativamente a sus hijos. El 10 de junio de 2012, un grupo numeroso
de la comunidad fue a la casa de Santiago Hernández Vázquez, uno de los hombres
que se habían convertido. Se llevaron a
todos los que se encontraban allí y los metieron en prisión, en medio de
insultos, amenazas con violencia; incluso consignas de muerte en el proceso.
Después de encarcelar a 16 hombres y niños en un espacio normalmente destinado a albergar a una sola persona, los maestros locales empleados por el gobierno falsificaron un documento que afirmaba que las familias habían decidido voluntariamente abandonar la comunidad. Las víctimas fueron obligadas a firmarlo y se les dio tres días para irse. Tras la expiración del ultimátum, 12 familias fueron expulsadas después de que los aldeanos destruyeron todas sus casas y propiedades. Para el año 2015, un total de 28 familias habían sido expulsadas de la misma comunidad.
Last week, CSW’s Latin America Advocacy Officer detailed the culture of impunity that hinders the protection and promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in Mexico. In this post we put a human face on the effects of the government’s inadequate response to violations of FoRB, showing what happens to individuals when authorities delay or neglect their responsibilities to protect religious minorities.
One case which illustrates the
deep rooted culture of impunity that surrounds attacks on religious minorities
in Mexico is that of the community of Yashtinin in San Cristóbal de las Casas Municipality in
Everything began in 2012, when several
people converted away from the majority religion. Some members of the community
were afraid that this new religion would damage their customs and traditions
and negatively affect their children. On 10 June 2012 a large group from the
community went to the house of a Santiago Hernández Vázquez, one of the men who had converted, and took everyone that was meeting there to prison,
insulting them and threatening them with violence and even death in the
After imprisoning 16 men and boys in a space normally meant to hold a single individual, local teachers employed by the government falsified a document stating that the families had voluntarily decided to leave the community. The victims were forced to sign it and given three days to leave. Upon the expiration of the ultimatum, 12 families were expelled after villagers destroyed all of their homes and property. By 2015, a total of 28 families had been expelled.
A child’s right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is guaranteed under international law. Yet children and young people in several countries across the world experience discrimination because of their religion or belief, including in educational settings.
For example, Christian children in northern Nigeria are often obliged to adopt Muslim names in order to access education. Hindu children in Pakistan face psychological and physical abuse from classmates and teachers. Rohingya Muslim children in Burma witness their schools being knocked down. Baha’i children in Iran are regularly abused physically and verbally by teachers.
“I was beaten with sticks approximately twice a week throughout nursery and prep. After that the manner of the abuse changed. As well as physical punishment, I was mentally abused and tortured by consistently being told to convert.”
Gurinder Singh, Sikh, Pakistan, 17 years old
The right to education, like the right to FoRB, ‘is crucial to the realization of a wide array of other human rights.’ Education can facilitate social mobility, or entrench disadvantage. It can assist in creating a culture of tolerance, or contribute towards fuelling stereotyping, intolerance and extremism.
With this in mind, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has produced a new report entitled Faith and a Future: Discrimination on the Basis of Religion or Belief in Education. Through verified case studies and in depth research in five countries spanning five geographical regions, this report seeks to stimulate vital conversations, encouraging further research and necessary action to address religious discrimination in educational settings.
On World Refugee Day, CSW explores one of the major root causes of the refugee crisis.
The current refugee crisis has become a major news story with much of the focus placed on asking, “Where will they go?”
A seeming backlash against the unprecedented influx into Europe in particular has led some to respond: “Anywhere but here”, and has unleashed what UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has termed “widespread anti-migrant rhetoric”, which in turn has fostered “a climate of divisiveness, xenophobia and even… vigilante violence.”
Yet very few people have asked, “What caused them to flee in the first place, and how can we best address this?”
One key reason is the increase in violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) around the world. *Persecution and violence targeting religious communities is resulting in exceptionally high levels of population displacement, contributing to the worldwide refugee crisis.
“Persecution and violence targeting religious communities is resulting in exceptionally high levels of population displacement, contributing to the worldwide refugee crisis.”
These violations often take place in societies where other human rights are being abused and in situations generally characterised by an absence of rule of law, corruption, economic disparity and authoritarian rule.
Issues of race, ethnicity, political opinion and gender usually intersect with religious persecution; consequently, religion-based asylum claims often include other grounds as well.