Pak Hindus and Religious Freedom discussed at APRO

By: Surinder Jain, Hindu Council of Australia.

A meeting of APRO (Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations) was held on 15th April. APRO is a national level Interfaith body. They aim to develop contacts with important institutions so that religious organizations can have a say in policy making.

I raised the issue of attack on Hindu community in Pakistan and kidnap, forced conversion and marriage to older men. I urged APRO to take up the matter with Department of Foreign affairs so that they can make a representation to Pakistan government to uphold human rights of its minority.

I circulated the Sacred icons list that has been developed by Hindu Council. It was agreed that each faith will develop their own list and Hindu Council (me) will compile and APRO will publish it in the form of a book. Some members suggested that after sacred icons, we can take up other matters of religious importance and expand the book further. I proposed that the book be called Sanya’s List to recognize the Perth Hindu girl in a Catholic school who shook up faith communities about this issue.

Religious freedom law proposed amendments was also discussed. I told the group that religious freedom of Newbie (or under resourced or minority) religions is different than the freedom being sought by established religions. We (Newbies) do not have schools, hospitals, well funded charities, businesses or aged care homes. Our children study in other faith schools and we need religious freedom for them, employees and teachers in other faith based schools.

Forum explained to us that there are new rules about Child Safety and they affect each and every religious organization and temple and urged Hindu Council to relay that information to our members so that they remain compliant with the law. 

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