Today’s first UN International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief was initiated by Kent Law School postgraduate research scholar Ewelina Ochab.
Ewelina authored the initiative in 2017 in a bid to recognise the importance of providing victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief and members of their families with appropriate support and assistance in accordance with applicable law. It was proposed at the UN by Poland at the end of 2017 and adopted by the UN General Assembly on 28 May 2019.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said: ‘On this Day, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the victims of violence based on religion and belief. And we demonstrate that support by doing all in our power to prevent such attacks and demanding that those responsible are held accountable.’
In an article for The Conversation, Ewelina lists ‘Five reasons the world needs a wake-up call on religious persecution’ and explains the need to shine a light on “those dark corners where acts of violence based on religion or belief are a daily reality.”
Ewelina says: ‘This initiative is intended to raise awareness and provide a springboard towards an action plan rather than being an end in itself. What will become of this day is up to all states, civil society and individuals. Everyone needs to play their role in making this a meaningful day – one that can bring a change to the lives of the people targeted for their religion or belief.’
A video on Ewelina’s Twitter feed features contributions from academics, politicians and policymakers from across the world affirming their support for the Day’s message.
Ewelina’s thesis focuses on the accountability of medical professionals for their involvement and complicity in torture in American detention centres.