President's Message about the Religious Freedom Round Table
A few months ago, the UCSJ leadership met with Alexandra Matvichuk Chair of the Center for Civil Liberties of the Ukraine (CCL) and brought her to the International Religious Freedom Round Table (IRFRT) to discuss the human rights problems in the Ukraine. She was also introduced for a private conversation with Sam Brownback, US Ambassador for Religious Freedom and the Office for Democracy, Religion, and Labor of the State Department. At that time, we discussed with Ms. Matvichuk the possibility of starting up a religious freedom round table in the Ukraine bringing together the various religious groups, human rights groups, NGOs and individuals representing civil society.
I can now report that the CCL and the Institute for Religious Freedom (IRS) of the Ukraine have invited the UCSJ to attend a Round Table on religious freedom in the Ukraine. The first meeting of the Round Table will be held in Kiev on Tuesday April 16, 2019 and will be devoted to the topic “Civil society’s joint efforts in protecting religious freedom in the occupied territories of Ukraine: the Crimea and Donbass” Invited to participate in the discussion are representatives of Ukrainian churches and religious communities, human rights and public organizations, academicians and experts. Among the religious communities are leading Rabbis, non-sectarian Jewish leaders, Muslims, Hindus and other communities.
The dialogue platform we hope will eventually become a good tradition of regular meetings of representatives of civil society institutions and translate into practical cooperation in the interests of religious freedom advancement and other human rights developments.
The UCSJ will be sending a delegation including President Larry Lerner, UCSJ Director, Anastasia Aseeva, Executive Director, and Rabbi Roger Lerner. We believe that our participation in this Round Table will strengthen peace, mutual respect, and the development of social dialogue within the Ukraine.
We will report on the Round Table immediately upon our return from Kiev.