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Taiwan chooses to stand with the oppressed: President Tsai

2019/03/11 13:25:59

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Taiwan will stand with people who are oppressed and those whose religious rights have been taken away by authoritarian regimes, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Monday in Taipei at the opening of a regional forum on religious freedom.

"Taiwan knows how it feels when someone tries to take away your rights, wipe out your identity, and challenge your way of life," Tsai said. Therefore, Taiwan chooses to stand with "those who were oppressed and whose religious rights were taken away by authoritarian regimes."

That is why Taiwan has been striving to strengthen value-based partnerships with like-minded friends around the world, she said at the forum titled "Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region."

"We remain committed to creating a world where people are free from fear of persecution, or the fear of exile because of their religion or ethnicity," Tsai said in her opening address at the two-day forum, which is being jointly sponsored by Taiwan and the United States.

Taiwan is known for its religious diversity, Tsai said, adding that along Xinsheng South Road in Taipei one can find places of worship for Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Mormons.

History has shown that when more people are living free from fear, their countries will be stable, peaceful and prosperous, the president said.

Tsai said she hoped the forum would be "a beacon of true global religious freedom for our region and the world."

The forum was organized by the government-funded Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), as a direct follow-on from the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington last July.

Leaders from more than 15 countries around the region have gathered in Taipei to discuss how to better protect and promote religious freedom.

Other attendees at the opening included visiting U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and AIT Taipei Director Brent Christensen.

In his address, Christensen said there is no better place than Taiwan to host the inaugural conference for the Indo-Pacific region.

"Few places in the Indo-Pacific region, or worldwide for that matter, can claim to have given birth to religious organizations that have done so much to inspire the world and contribute to the common good beyond its own borders," he said.

(By Joseph Yeh)