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9 J. Christian Legal Thought 27 (2019)
Addressing Violence and Persecution Based on Religion Or Belief

handle is hein.journals/jchlet9 and id is 55 raw text is: 
JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN LEGAL THOUGHT


ADDRESSING VIOLENCE AND

PERSECUTION BASED ON RELIGION

OR BELIEF
The Very Test of Our Christian Values

BY EWELINA U. OCHAB


Wile it is not exclusive to them, Christians
           cnsider caring for fellow human beings,
           especially the vulnerable, as a Christian
value. This is derived from biblical teaching and par-
ticularly the parable of the Good Samaritan. Caring for
others has various manifestations. Among others, many
Christians feel very strongly about the need to protect
the unborn from the practice of abortion or those suf-
fering from incurable diseases from euthanasia or as-
sisted suicide. They cite caring for the most (physically)
vulnerable members of society and the sanctity of life as
ultimate values that require adequate protection at all
times. However, to ensure that the values are meaning-
ful and remain as such, it is crucial to ensure that they
truly cover everyone -including those people around
the world who are, on the face, less (physically) vulner-
able who are targeted for their religion or belief. Indeed,
in recent years we have witnessed an increase in acts
of violence or persecution based on religion or belief.
Addressing such atrocities and assisting those targeted
should be a priority for anyone caring about the sanctity
of life and the need to care for others. The very test of
our Christian values and our humanity is how we stand
up for others.
    This article focuses on the issue of acts of violence
and persecution based on religion or belief, and the situ-
ation of religious minorities facing the most egregious
atrocities and often annihilation in different parts of the
world. First, I consider the issue of persecution based on
religion or belief and what this means to religious mi-
norities. Second, I discuss two of the worst cases of per-
secution from the last five years: Daesh atrocities against


religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, and the Burmese
military's atrocities perpetrated against the Rohingya
Muslims in Myanmar; both cases are classified as geno-
cide, the crime of crimes. Third, I consider what basic
responses are needed to address such atrocities and pro-
tect those targeted.
   The article aims to scrutinize the approaches taken
to address the recent atrocities and consider the need
to strengthen the response genocide or crimes against
humanity. Furthermore, it makes a clear case that any
responses must address the nature of the atrocities,
namely, the element of religion or belief.

PERSECUTION BASED ON RELIGION
OR BELIEF AND GENOCIDE
Persecution, as defined in the Rome Statute, covers the
intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights
contrary to international law by reason of the identity of
the group or collectivity' Conversely, religious perse-
cution or persecution based on religion or belief2 is not
univocally defined in the Rome Statue as a subcategory
and its definition and scope continue to be subject to
debates.3 However, it is clear that it is included within
the generic definition of persecution. And while perse-
cution based on religion or belief may not be universally
understood, there are certain acts that can be classified
as such crimes including mass atrocities under inter-
national criminal law. For example, persecution can be
classified as a crime against humanity, manifested by a
wide range of acts falling under the definition of crimes
against humanity in the Rome Statute;4 as genocide as


   Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7(2)(g), UN Doc. A/CONE 183/9, 17 July 1998, 2187 U.N.T.S.
   90.
2  The paper will use the term persecution based on religion or belief as the definition is considered to be inclusive.
   See, e.g., Knox Thames et al, International Religious Freedom Advocacy: A guide to Organizations, Law and NGO's (Baylor
   University Press, 2009) 11-12; Charles L. Tieszen, 'Towards redefining persecution (2008)1 International Journal for
   Religious Freedom 67-80; Charles L. Tieszen, Re-examining religious persecution. Constructing a framework for understanding
   persecution (AcadSA Publishing: Johannesburg, 2008).
4  Rome Statute, art. 7(1)(h).


2019

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