Open Doors World Watch List

Example Email Correspondence

Dear Mr Watling,

Refugees, civil wars and hatred. At the crux of many of these crises is the denial of the right to freedom of religion or belief – this is the issue of our time. Tackling religious persecution head-on is a strategic way to resolve many complex, global issues.

If we drop the ball on the right to freedom of religion or belief the ripple effect to other human rights is devastating: undermining the right to a fair trial, the right to family life, freedom of expression and much more. Existing vulnerabilities such as gender, ethnicity, class or age are further exacerbated, leaving many Christians exposed to various complex layers of persecution.

This is evident in the case of 109 young girls who were abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria earlier this year. All the girls were later released but one, Leah Sharibu. Leah was kidnapped because she was a girl. Boko Haram refused to release her because she refused to deny her Christian faith. We must recognise the central and devastating role that denying the right to freedom of religion or belief has, in order to comprehensively address crises such as these. 

Please take action by representing me at the launch of the Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List, hosted by Rt Hon Theresa Villiers in the Members’ Dining Room on 16 January 2019, 4-5 pm. Refreshments provided.

The launch will provide you with in-depth research and analysis into the 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian. Speakers from Nigeria and Malaysia will share first-hand accounts, giving you the opportunity to find out how tackling religious persecution could help resolve many global issues. 

Last year, 97 parliamentarians prioritised this issue and attended the World Watch List launch. Since you have such a crucial role in protecting the vulnerable from structural persecution, I urge you to prioritise this year’s World Watch List launch. 


My Reply

Thank you for contacting me about the launch of the Open Doors world watch list.

It is completely abhorrent that millions of Christians worldwide are persecuted for seeking to practise their beliefs openly, in peace and safety. Here in the UK our freedoms are all too often taken for granted. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has shown a longstanding commitment to address the persecution of religious minorities around the world.

The UK's multiple overseas programmes are an important part of this work to promote and protect religious freedoms. This includes raising concerns over provisions that are being used to limit the freedom to adopt, change or practise a religion around the world. I was encouraged to learn that almost £1 million of funding has been allocated to pursue the Government's freedom of religion and belief policy objectives through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy. 

I can assure you that the Government will continue to defend the fundamental right of religious freedom, alongside its commitment to promote and defend human rights more generally. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently reissued its toolkit on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) to all of our overseas embassies and missions across the world and encouraged them to promote and defend this important human right. Additional funding of £12 million has also been made available through UK Aid Connect, to work with faith groups, NGOs and academics to promote religious diversity and help countries worldwide embed FoRB policies alongside poverty reduction and development.

The UK acts both multilaterally, through institutions such as the UN, striving to build and maintain consensus, and bilaterally, though the UK's diplomatic network to address the persecution of religious minorities. 

I am unfortunately unable to attend the event on 16th January, but I am encouraged that the persecution of Christians abroad is high on the Government's agenda via its project work and work at a bilateral and multilateral level.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.