San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
The United Nations will celebrate 2014 as the year of the indigenous peoples. Despite the attention, indigenous communities continue to face socio-economic and environmental challenges and encroachment on their land and resources. One of the main issues impacting the indigenous peoples of Asia today is attack on their cultural and religious traditions. Pew Research Center and the United States’ Department of State in their recent annual reports have mentioned about the rise in religious persecution in Asia which directly impacts the indigenous peoples. Reports suggest that target killings, attacks on religious centers and processions, threats in the educational institutions and discrimination in the socio-economic and political institutions is on rise that affect the religious minorities. Governments in countries like China, Pakistan, Myanmar and Vietnam have been found responsible for promoting religious persecution, which need immediate attention and rectification.
To discuss these issues, the American Islamic Congress and the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, are holding this seminar. The panel will discuss issues concerning religious persecution, recent self-immolation cases in Tibet, and governance, security and human rights violations in South and South East Asia. The audience might like to learn how such practices could affect Gilgit-Baltistan as China’s influence continues to grow in this disputed region. Speakers who will focus on related topics include Sonam T. Khorlatsang, Secretary of Home, Central Tibetan Administration, Knox Thames from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Dr. Thomas Lynch from the National Defense University, Neva Morrison from the First Peoples Worldwide, Dr. Quan Nguyen from Rallying for Democracy, Virginia, Mr. Jun Wang from China Democratic Party World Union, and Senge Sering of Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies.
Tenzin N. Tethong is Director of the Tibetan Service program at Radio Free Asia. He is a former Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York and Washington, D.C. and founder of the Tibet Fund and the International Campaign for Tibet. He has worked in the exile Tibetan community all his life and served as Kalon Tripa in the government in exile. Until ecently, before arriving at RFA, he was Distinguished Fellow, Tibetan Studies Initiative at Stanford University.
Dr. Thomas Lynch
Dr. Thomas F. Lynch III is a Distinguished Research Fellow for South Asia and the Near East at the Institute of National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Lynch has published widely on the politics, religions, and security of South Asia and the Near East.
Neva is Cherokee and Skokomish. She and her mother, Rebecca Adamson grew First Peoples Worldwide into the only Indigenous Led organization that works at a grassroots, national and international level for Indigenous communities. Neva is an advocate for Indigenous Peoples globally.
Dr Quan Nguyen
Dr. Quan Nguyen is actively involved in advocating freedom, democracy and human rights in Vietnam since last twenty two years. Dr. Nguyen and his organization have played a key role in the passage of the Joint Resolution SJ 168 in the US Congress in May 1994 which President Clinton subsequently signed into Public Law 103-258. He has been invited to testify before the US congress on several occasions. Dr. Nguyen is currently the President of The International Committee to Support Nonviolent Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam and Project Director of The Rallying For Democracy which broadcast news to Vietnam.
Mr. Jun Wang
Mr. Jun Wang is actively involved in advocating freedom, democracy and human rights in China since last twenty ears. He is currently the chairperson of China Democracy Party World Union, and Executive Director of China Democracy Journal. He has been invited to speak at the US Congress on several occasions.
The president of the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, Senge Sering, hails from the Shigar valley of UN declared disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan, which is sandwiched between Xinjiang, Tibet, India, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. His native tongue Balti is an archaic dialect of the Tibetan language and spoken by almost half a million people. Senge Sering holds a Masters’ degree in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia, U.K. and had several years of work experience with the internationally recognized development organizations and think tanks. In 1998, he led a campaign to revive the indigenous Balti Tibetan script in Baltistan which received recognition from the Tibetan Government in Exile after the Office of His Holiness Dalai Lama recognized the people of Baltistan as part of the Tibetan community. Senge Sering is a frequent visitor to the Geneva based United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, the British Parliament and the American Congress where he talks about issues pertaining to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Knox Thames, Director of Policy and Research at US Commission on International Religious Freedom
Knox Thames joined the Commission in February 2009. Before coming to the Commission, he worked in the Office of International Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State, and was the lead State Department officer on religious freedom issues in multilateral fora, such as the UN and OSCE. Mr. Thames also served as Counsel for six years at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), where he was the point-person on religious freedom matters, on issues involving refugees and internally displaced persons, and focused on democracy and human rights in Central Asia. In 2004, Mr. Thames was appointed by the State Department to serve as one of the two U.S. experts on the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Mr. Thames earned a J.D. with honors from the American University Washington College of Law. He also holds a Master's in International Affairs from the American University School of International Service. An author of numerous articles on a range of human rights issues, his book International Religious Freedom Advocacy was released in August 2009 by Baylor University Press. - See more at: http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/professional-staff.html#Knox_Thames
Scott Flipse, Deputy Director of Policy and Research
Scott Flipse joined the Commission in April of 2003. Before coming to the Commission he was Associate Director and Adjunct Professor of History for the University of Notre Dame's Washington Semester. Mr. Flipse is a specialist in American foreign policy, particularly toward Southeast and East Asia. He brings to the Commission a wealth of unique professional and educational experience. He served as a legislative assistant and committee staffer for Congressman Frank R. Wolf, specializing in human rights, religious freedom, and foreign operation's appropriations. After working on the Hill, he helped start an inner-city jobs and mentoring program in Los Angeles and later worked in Hollywood as a writer. Mr. Flipse has a B.A. in government from Calvin College, an M.A. in Social Ethics and Religion from the University of Southern California and Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Notre Dame. - See more at: http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/professional-staff.html#flipse
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