'U.N. rights declaration precludes conversions'

NEW YORK, SEPT. 2. Irate Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh delegates of the World Peace Summit have rejected the interpretation of some Christian organisations that the United Nations' universal declaration of human rights gave them the right to unhindered conversions. At a hurriedly-convened meeting here on Friday, they adopted a resolution that the declaration's provisions did not grant any such right and resolved to present it to the United Nations and seek clarifications from it. The resolution was read out at the closing session of the summit in the evening but did not form part of the declaration issued by it. Hindu leaders, including the VHP leader, Mr. Ashok Singhal, said they fully agreed with the summit's declaration but had objections to ``misinterpretation'' of the provision by some Christian organisations.

The article of the declaration in question says, ``everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance''. The declaration was adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

The resolution adopted by the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh delegations says any such provision either in the declaration or any other human rights instruments ``does not mean and cannot be construed to authorising any establishment or individual to resort to organising proselytisation which has a long history of creating tension, conflicts, between religious communities and which continue to impair inter-faith goodwill, tolerance and harmony''.


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