In 2019, the UN General Assembly established August 22 as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. Just like last year, the Religious Freedom Laboratory coordinated this year’s celebration of the Day in Poland. Also this time, the actions undertaken to commemorate those persecuted for their faith met with great interest from the media, cultural institutions and local governments.
IDCVAV in the media
On August 20 in Warsaw a press conference was held by the Laboratory of Religious Freedom in cooperation with the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need and the Polish Media Association. Its aim was to introduce the public to the idea of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. Project manager, rev. Tomasz Huzarek Ph.D told about the importance of the Day, as well as the mission accompanying the activity of the Laboratory of Religious Freedom. Rev. Andrzej Kwaśniewski Ph.D from the Fpundation Aid to the Church in Need outlined the current situation of believers in the world. Przemysław Komorowski Ph.D, lawyer and expert of the Laboratory of Religious Freedom, presented the cases of violations of religious freedom recorded in recent years in Poland, discussed their legal aspects, and presented the methods and methodology of research conducted by LWR among victims of violations. Marcin Romanowski Ph.D, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, emphasized the important place of freedom of conscience and religion in the catalog of human rights and the need to protect it.
The encouragement to commemorate the victims of violence based on religion or belief met with a great deal of media response. Information about the Day itself and its celebrations was disseminated on websites and offices and institutions media channels, among others: Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities and University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. It also was reported by local media, such as Radio Warszawa, Polskie Radio Lublin, TVP3 Lublin, as well as many internet portals, including: misyjne.pl, niedziela.pl, Bydgoszcz24.pl, iszczecinek, Kraków.pl, Świecie24.pl. The topic was also publicized by nationwide media, such as Polsat News, TVP or Polskie Radio 24.
A light for the persecuted
The main element of this year’s celebration of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief was the illumination of the buildings of offices and cultural institutions throughout Poland. At 9 p.m., illuminated in red were:
The „light for the persecuted” initiative was developed in the form of an online campaign of lighting candles and grave lanterns as a gesture of solidarity with the victims of persecution. The participants of the action published photos of lit candles along with information about joining the celebration of the Day and hashtags: #MDUOAP, #22sierpnia, #FoRBmatters, #religiouspersecution, #prześladowaniareligijne, #ikropka. As summarized by the Laboratory of Religious Freedom project manager, rev. Tomasz Huzarek Ph.D, the constantly growing number of victims experiencing persecution based on belief or religion (as evidenced by the World Index of Persecution 2021 prepared by the Open Doors organization) and the growing number of cases of restricting religious freedom in Europe and Poland (LWR report for 2020) make us realize, how pressing need is to show solidarity with persecuted people also by celebrating the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.