Logo of IRFBA: International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance

As members, friends, and observers of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA), we condemn without reservation Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its destruction of civilian objects, infrastructure, and cultural and sacred heritage sites.

We note with grave concern the growing evidence of atrocities committed during the war, including: attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure; extrajudicial killings; torture; or other cruel, inhuman, or and degrading treatment or punishment; rape and other sexual violence; forcible deportation of Ukrainian civilians, including children, to Russia and the wilful killing of prisoners of war.

We stand in solidarity with Ukraine, our fellow IRFBA member, and commend the courage and determination of its people.

We note the severe violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief in Russian controlled regions, including Crimea and Donbas, with the targeting of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Catholics, evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslim minorities, and we recall that international humanitarian law provides protections for cultural property during armed conflict.

We recall the statement on freedom of religion or belief and cultural heritage from the FoRB Ministerial Conference held in London in July 2022. We note that Russian forces have destroyed or damaged hundreds of religious buildings and places of worship in Ukraine.

We therefore:

Call on Russia to immediately withdraw all forces and equipment from Ukraine and respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and to respect the individually held human right to freedom of religion or belief at all times.

Pledge to support the collection of evidence for use in national and international courts.

Call on all nations to support Ukraine by providing assistance to those affected, assisting with the reconstruction of Ukraine, including its cultural and religious sites, and providing technical and material assistance to protect sacred sites during hostilities.

We continue to call on all Russians, whatever their religion or belief, to stand up for peace.”

Signatories

United Kingdom (Chair) & Czech Republic (Vice Chair), with Australia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future