Keeping the Faith

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On February 5th, 2016, the Faculty of Law and Public affair together with the Human Rights Resource Center (HRRC) organized a panel discussion on freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in ASEAN. The discussion and accompanying report outlined legislative and policy frameworks and trends in Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including contributing factors and surrounding circumstances.

Dr. Kol Pheng, PUC president and founder, opened the forum by expressing his hope that the findings of the report would promote peace building in ASEAN and some parts of the world. Dr. Kol, a noted Buddhist follower, peace finder and personal growth educator, emphasized his belief that religion is harmony, and advised participants to learn to love and to know each other in order to eliminate misunderstandings. “Peace education shall be transmitted through media including television, radio, banners, and many other forms like today’s discussion,” stated Dr. Kol.

Similarly, H.E. Philip Calvert, Canadian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, identified the issue of freedom of thought which is important all over the world. He added that the conference is good opportunity to discuss human rights and religious freedom.

As to whether or not separation is about to happen, Ms. Faith Delos Reyes noted that sovereignty is a key to keeping peace and unity; especially when governments commits to political security. As a result, she believes that separation will not happen.

As ASEAN is moving toward one community in 2025, the governments of each country have a commitment to ensure political security, economies, and sovereignty are going to be integrated with one another. “It is important to see peace and security with us in the region,” noted Professor Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, HRRC Acting Executive Director.

In accordance with the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration; 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 personal beliefs must be eliminated.

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