- William Warda participate in the First Ministerial Conference to Advance Religious Freedom held in Washington
- Mr. Warda: We call for solidarity with us in Iraq to change Article 26 of the Unified National Card Act, which concerns the rights of religious minorities
- Mr. Warda: We hope that Iraqi NGO's working on the ground will have access to grants and funding to support projects for Iraqi minorities
Mr. William Warda, Director of Public Relations of Hammurabi Human Rights Organization participated in the First Ministerial Conference to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the U.S. State Department during the past week (24-26) July 2018 in Washington.
The Conference held under the auspices of US Vice President Mike Pence at the invitation of the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo including representatives of more than 80 countries officials and non-governmental civil society organization figures.
During the opening ceremony of the conference the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback announce the objectives of the conference shedding light on the suffering of the persecuted minorities in many countries, "The absence of religious freedom in one place in the world is a threat to peace, prosperity and stability in the world."
In his speech to the conference, the US secretary of state said that the motive for firm commitment of President Trump to religious freedom and his decision to hold such a meeting was not a personal story, as Trump's administration recognized that religious freedom was one of the fundamental freedoms of the United States. The US supports religious freedom through foreign policy because it is not the right of the Americans alone, while it is the right of all human beings, and a right given by God. He also stressed that millions of people are suffering from repression of religious freedoms, and that Trump's administration will not remain silent about curbing religious freedoms, and the State Department will continue the work it has begun for years to establish religious freedom of the world.
US Vice President Mike Pence announced that the conference will be held annually and that President Trump's administration has allocated $ 110 million to help persecuted Christians and minorities in the Middle East. The Vice President clarified in his speech at the conference on Thursday, July 26, 2018, The United States directly supports non-governmental organizations concerned with Christians and persecuted communities in the Middle East.
For his part, Mr. William Warda, Director of Public Relations of Hammurabi Human Rights Organization during his interventions in the sessions of the Conference expressed his hope that the Iraqi NGOs working on the ground on the rights of religious minorities would have the opportunity to receive grants from the US assistance which will be launched to support projects concerned with developing the conditions of religious minorities and improving the reality of religious freedom in Iraq.
Mr. Warda called the attendees for solidarity and support for non-Muslim Iraqis and to stand with them in their demands to reform the laws that violate their rights such as Article 26 of the Law No. (3) of the year 2016 of the Unified National Card, which stipulates the Islamization of underage after the conversion of one parent to Islam, he also called for the reform of other laws that allow for religious freedom, including the repeal of Law No. 105 issued in the 1980s to prohibit Baha'i activity and to allow for the promotion of religious freedom in Iraq under legal protection and firm policies of the state.
On the sidelines of the conference, Mr. Warda met political personalities, US civic leaders and others who participated in the conference, most notably the US Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Sam Brownback the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and Mr. Knox Thames Special Advisor for Religious Minorities at the U.S. Department of State.
It is to be mentioned that the conference reflected the US administration's priorities for religious freedom, bringing together 400 foreign delegates who attended the conference as well as official delegations from 80 countries.