Taiwan pours US$1m into US religious freedom fund

China | 13 Mar 2019 10:21 am

Taiwan announced yesterday that it will donate US$1 million to a U.S.-initiated fund to help persecuted religious minorities around the world.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien said at the conclusion of the first regional religious freedom forum co-organized by Taiwan and the U.S. that the government will donate US$200,000 each year over five years to the International Religious Freedom Fund (I-ReFF) to be used to promote religious freedom worldwide, CNA reports.

Norway and the Netherlands have also announced that they will donate to the fund, according to Hsu.

Meanwhile, Hsu also introduced Taiwan's newly appointed ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, Pusing Tali of the indigenous Atayal tribe.

The president of Yushan Theological College and Seminary, known for his decades of teaching theology to Taiwanese aboriginal tribes, Tali was appointed to the post last Friday by President Tsai Ing-wen.

Hsu made the announcement during a reception in Taipei to mark the conclusion of the two-day forum titled "Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region."

The forum, attended by leaders from more than 15 countries around the region to discuss how to better protect and promote religious freedom, was a direct follow-up from the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington last July.

I-ReFF was established following the Washington event.

Attendees at the Taipei forum included visiting U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who delivered a keynote speech during the Monday opening.

In an address the following day, Brownback thanked Taiwan for holding the forum, which he hopes can become an annual event before ultimately turning into a network of freedom to speak up for those who are religiously restricted and suppressed.

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