"Public Advocacy" calls to counteract politicization of religion in world
The tendency to politicize religion is observed in a number of regions of the world, Oleg Denisov, head of the NGO “Public Advocacy”, noted at the OSCE meeting.
Speaking at the OSCE annual Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) on Freedom of Religion or Belief, which took place on November 10, 2020, the head of “Public Advocacy” Oleg Denisov emphasized that in the modern world similar trends are observed in a number of regions – for example, the authorities of Montenegro, North Macedonia and Ukraine politicize the religious issue for electoral purposes.
He explained that the church theme is becoming the subject of electoral technologies, which creates a demand for the commission of offenses against the Church in Ukraine, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.
Denisov recalled that in Ukraine, ex-President Petro Poroshenko lobbied for the project to create the OCU, and the incumbent President Vladimir Zelensky met with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in Istanbul before the local elections. Lower-level politicians, in turn, also tend to use religious themes: they organize projects to support the "transfers" of churches from one jurisdiction to another, publish methodological manuals for this, create teams of legal and military support, etc. All this, added the human rights activist, is the result of political demand and has little to do with believers and the rights of specific people.
This problem leads to incitement of religious hatred, therefore, the OSCE should not only monitor violations of the rights of believers but also develop specific forms and methods of depoliticizing the religious sphere.
In particular, the head of the NGO "Public Advocacy" stressed, it is necessary to internationally criticize politicians who use the church issue in their electoral technologies, as well as to strive to comply with the law and bring those guilty of committing offenses to legal responsibility.
“Unfortunately, in many cases in Ukraine, protection at the national level does not bring results since criminal proceedings on cases of violations of the rights of believers, although opened formally, are not properly investigated,” the Ukrainian human rights activist stated. “Even in cases where criminals themselves post evidence of their crimes on social networks. So, our organization has to apply for protection to the UN, and it is good if for the protection of a specific community it is possible to obtain a decision of an international body, for example, the UN Human Rights Committee on the case of the UOC community in Ivano-Frankivsk."
In this regard, the human rights organization “Public Advocacy” recommended that the OSCE and the participating States, as well as the official UN mandate holders, publicly criticize the state policy of violations of the rights of believers in Ukraine, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
As reported, the head of the UOC Representation to European International Organizations, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba), during the annual meeting of the OSCE called for a more active response to systemic violations of the rights of UOC believers.