Shahid Rehmat was selected for the United Nation’s Minority Forum and Minority Rights Group (MRG) UN Advocacy Training in Geneva, Switzerland, which he attended from November 21-29, 2013. The UN Forum on Minority Issues gives targeted attention to religious minorities. While the Forum addresses respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief, it will also goes further, to address the full range of minority rights. It provides a platform for the discussion of challenges and positive practices as experienced in all regions, including in terms of national legislation and policies.
As a young activist, all these all things instigate Shahid to take some practical initiatives to promote and defend the rights of religious minorities, particularly the oppressed and marginalized communities of Pakistan (the land of the pure), to make it a peaceful and diverse land to live.
“I believe that the UN Forum on “Beyond freedom of religion or belief: Guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities” and MRG UN advocacy training 2013 will be a great opportunity for me to exchange ideas, experiences, challenges on alarming issues of human and minority rights, to get their solutions and suggestions.”
1. Adopt measures to ensure opportunities for constructive interfaith dialogues, consultation and cross faith exchange programs for youth.
2. Invest more in capacity building for peace building and advocacy for youth and children to ensure notions of non-discrimination are instilled while minds are young and before prejudices have settled in.
3. Ban hate speeches against religious minorities.
4. Invite the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of religion or belief to visit Pakistan.
He also believes that this forum boosted his inspiration, human and minority rights skills, commitment for social change, hope and courage by discussion, dialogue, awareness and inputs from great human and minority rights defenders and activists. This was also an opportunity for him to network with the individuals and organizations working and collaborating with Minority Rights Group International (MRG) for developing unique solutions and take initiatives to meet these challenges, and to learn from the best practices implemented in other contexts.
His participation made a valuable and practical contribution by bringing firsthand knowledge to his peers about the struggle of small but important initiatives such as Interfaith Youth in Action for the rights of minorities in Pakistan. This will develop a bridge of awareness, learning, and experience sharing from the international to national and grassroots level that will benefit the organization’s members and leaders across the country.
This training also provided him an opportunity to experience and learn sophisticated assessment tools that are designed by international experts to research, practice, and monitor minority rights across the globe. Shahid plans to utilize all the skills garnered to design, develop, and apply to a new initiative of his organization to ensure respect and protection for minority rights as equal citizens under the UN framework at all levels. He will also educate his peers and colleagues in Pakistan, estimated at 50 direct contacts and 2000 indirect contacts in and through his organization and will share all the learning which he received from this training to educate and polish their minority rights skills and knowledge.