One Free World
One Free World International (OFWI) is an international human rights organization based in Toronto, Canada, with a focus on ensuring the rights of women, children and, especially, religious minorities around the world.
Its purpose is to help to ensure a world in which all people are free to hold and exercise their beliefs and religious observances and to question, challenge, and change those beliefs or observances in accordance with their conscience.
The right of religious freedom is essential for a peaceful and prosperous society.
OFWI completed a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan June 25-30, 2010, during which we had the opportunity to speak with high-level government officials, opposition leaders, human rights organizations, and victims of human rights abuses. Afghanistan is an ancient country rich in culture and tradition and home to a proud and self-sufficient people, and OFWI has great respect and admiration for the people of Afghanistan.
Historically, its geographic location along the Silk Road allowed it to profit from trade and cultural ties with the east and the west. However, it has also left the country open to a tragic history of war and conquest that has not abated with the decline of the Silk Road. The world has watched over the last 30 years as the Afghan people have endured the invasion of Soviet forces, followed by civil war, the oppressive Taliban regime and the continuing international intervention to root out the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Now, Afghanistan is seeking to take its rightful place as a respected member of the world community.
We believe that all Afghans—Muslim or Christian, Sunni or Shi’a, Hindu or Sikh, male or female, young or old—want to live peaceful, productive and meaningful lives.
In order to help Afghanistan help itself, we must speak nothing short of the truth even where the truth is difficult, as anything less would be to mislead and ultimately betray the people of this great country.
We can start by addressing the persecution of converts, discrimination and abuse against women and children, particularly the new Shi’a personal status law and the practice of bacha bazi, or “boy play”.
Thousands of Afghan Christians and members of other faiths, such as the Bahá’í faith, have paid the ultimate price for following their conscience by being executed as apostates. We believe that the people in Western countries are in a unique position to address these issues. The international community has invested far too many human lives, money and other resources in Afghanistan to stop now. We must not defeat the work of the last nine years by abandoning the pursuit of human rights and democracy or supporting any from of compromise with those who have no regard for the rights of others.
The future of the Afghan people depends on it.
Now, the change
• Our government must ensure that the rights of Afghan Muslims themselves to explore, question, and change their own beliefs if they wish, whether it means adopting another religion or even simply abandoning religion altogether, are recognized, respected and enforced.
• Our government must demand that the Afghan government immediately and publicly repudiate all laws or policies, whether pursued by civil or religious authorities, which have as their objective or effect the persecution and execution of converts or other religious minorities.
• It must demand that the Afghan government recognize and protect the rights of converts and the rights of Muslims to seek and obtain accurate information about other religions.
• Our government must also demand that the Afghan government repeal the discriminatory provisions of the Shi’a personal status law.
• It must demand that the government pass and enforce laws for the protection of women and girls from marital abuse and forced and underage marriages and of boys from sexual abuse and practices such as bacha bazi.
• Our government must also increase its efforts to assist the Afghan government in developing processes to hold authorities accountable for upholding the law.
Click here to send a letter to relevant government officials stating your support for change in Afghanistan now.