"As a universal human right, the freedom of religion and belief safeguards respect for diversity. Its free exercise directly contributes to democracy, development, rule of law, peace, and stability," Wahyuningrum noted in a statement received by Antara in Jakarta, Friday.
Wahyuningrum delivered the statement while opening the AICHR Consultation on the implementation of Article 22 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Nusa Dua, Bali, Friday.
The ASEAN is located in a highly diverse region in terms of linguistics, culture, politics, legal system, religion, and histories, Wahyuningrum stated.
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With regard to the political systems alone, while Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Thailand have formally adopted a democratic system of government, Vietnam and Lao PDR are single-party socialist republics.
On the other hand, Brunei Darussalam is an absolute monarchy, while Myanmar is yet transitioning from military rule to a democratic government, Wahyuningrum remarked.
These varying political systems affect how the state engages with religion, the type of influence that religion has on state regulations, as well as the state’s commitment to freedom of religion and belief or on human rights in general.
In terms of religious diversity, all main religions of the world are represented in the ASEAN, specifically Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity, including Roman Catholicism.
These religions exist alongside native religions that tend to be animistic. The broad religious diversity of the Southeast Asian region cannot be understated.
There is also huge diversity in how ASEAN member states organize their state-religion relations, Wahyuningrum stated.
The religious diversity and plurality of state-religion arrangements also translate to a plurality of views among ASEAN member states as to what religious freedom would entail.
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