Posted by: becketfund | April 7, 2008

Malaysia briefing at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus

Update: here is the transcript of Angela’s remarks.

Congressional Human Rights Caucus
Task Force for International Religious Freedom

Invite you to a staff briefing on

Matters of Life and Death in Malaysia: Does the Recent Election Point to a Trend Toward Religious Tolerance?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008
10:00-11:30 a.m.
Room: 210 Cannon

Please join the Congressional Human Rights Caucus Task Force for International Religious Freedom (TIRF) for a staff briefing on the impact of the recent national elections in Malaysia on religious minorities and the prospects for democratic freedom.

The March 8th elections served as a watermark in Malaysian democracy for the rights of religious minorities, but the long-term effects are uncertain. Prior to the elections some 100 Islamic groups advocated for greater power for Shariah courts, while many Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian minorities organized against increasing threats to their religious freedom. Religious minorities were galvanized by the government authorized destruction of Hindu and Buddhist temples, and legal decisions that limited their religious freedom rights related to issues of life and death – from conversion, custody of children, and the seizure and destruction of Bibles, to burial. Significant losses for Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s coalition in the March 8th election have left religious and ethnic minorities in the growing opposition hopeful for the future of Malaysia’s secular democracy. Still, these underlying tensions should not be easily dismissed.

Joining us to discuss these important issues we welcome as witnesses:

  • Dr. Bridget Welsh, Assistant Professor in the Southeast Asia Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS;
  • Angela C. Wu, International Director with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty;
  • Ishani Chowdhury, Director of Public Policy with the Hindu American Foundation; and
  • Mickey Spiegel, Senior Researcher with the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch.

For more information about this briefing or to RSVP, please contact Tina Ramirez with Representative Trent Franks (5-4576) or Cassandra Young with Representative Emanuel Cleaver (5-4535).


s/Trent Franks, Co-Chair, TIRF
s/Emanuel Cleaver, II, Co-Chair, TIRF

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