■ Taiwan recently made history by becoming the host country to the first ever meeting of religious rights leaders and groups to promote religious freedom among countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
According to the report by Taipei Times, the Asia-Pacific Religious Freedom Forum kicked off on Thursday at the Yangmei district in Taoyuan and will continue until Sunday.
Some of the participants in the four-day forum include the U.S.-based China Aid and Freedom House campaign groups, the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights, and the Democratic Pacific Union.
The forum brings together a total of 99 country leaders, government representatives, and human rights advocates from 26 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Religion is often the cause of conflicts or even wars in many countries. The world’s worst nightmare at the moment is terrorism, which in essence revolves around the longstanding conflict between Islam and Christianity,” said Annette Lu, former Taiwan vice president and founder of the Democratic Pacific Union, in a press statement.
Taiwan is home to 28 different religions, and each one is free to practice its own set of beliefs and rituals, making it a good example among other countries. In spite of differences, Lu said that all of Taiwan’s religions, including Taoism and Christianity, have united in order to support the forum.
Weixinism, the country’s newest religion has also expressed its support for the religious freedom convention.
The participants of the forum are set to present the Taiwan Declaration for Religious Freedom on Friday.
So far, the only issue that the delegates have faced is their difficulty in securing Taiwan visas for the forum. According to a report by Radio Free Asia, two religious freedom advocates from China were not given visas and as a result, missed the forum.
The report speculates that Beijing, which still claims sovereignty over Taiwan, may have affected the decision not to grant them visas.