Speaking out in Advocacy

Open Doors UK and Ireland spent £600,058 on legal support and training for persecuted believers and raising awareness of their situation to influencers within the UK.

Huge changes in the political landscape presented both opportunities and challenges for Open Doors UK and Ireland's advocacy work in 2016.

Open Doors continued to build on its reputation and credibility, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister claiming in Parliament that Open Doors makes a 'major contribution' to FCO thinking on North Africa and the Middle East.  Open Doors also influenced the FCO's decision to fund Iranian students studying human rights and contributed directly to the initiation and smooth running of the FCO Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

In 2016 Open Doors launched three parliamentary reports and a global seven-year campaign. The World Watch List 2016 report launch was attended by 108 MPs following invitations from at least 5,511 supporters ('at least' because many sent postcards directly to their MPs rather than via Open Doors). The Nigeria Crushed but not Defeated report launch was attended by 51 MPs, following 3,032 email invitations.

The Hope for the Middle East campaign was launched in the UK, gathering over 50,000 signatures, £2.95m donations and countless prayers by December 2016.

 
"You have a role: to be advocates to your governments"
- Pastor B, Syria

OUR VOICES TOGETHER: MAKING A DIFFERENCE

The UK advocacy team seeks to use every opportunity to highlight the persecution of Christians in over 50 countries worldwide – and on almost every continent.

  • January 2017 World Watch List Report Launch - Thanks to thousands of supporters inviting them, at least 88 parliamentarians attended the parliamentary launch of the World Watch List report: The Persecution of Christians and Global Displacementpdf
  • WWL 2017: Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP
    WWL 2017: Fiona Bruce MP
    WWL 2017: Lisa Pearce, CEO, Open Doors UK and Ireland
    Pastor Aminu, Northern Nigeria, addresses UK Parliament

  • October 2016: Hope for the Middle East campaign and report launch - Dozens of MPs attended the parliamentary launch of the global Hope for the Middle East campaign and its foundational reportpdf which discusses the contribution of Christians in Iraq and Syria in the past, present and future.

  • April 2016: northern Nigeria report launch - Thanks to thousands of invitations from Open Doors supporters, 51 MPs and six peers attended the launch of Crushed but not defeated, a unique reportpdf highlighting the variety of persecution faced by Christians in northern Nigeria.

  • January 2016: Open Doors 2016 World Watch List launch - An unprecedented 108 MPs and ten peers attended the List’s parliamentary launch, hearing first-hand the latest research into the global persecution of Christians. Those attending also heard the three key recommendations presented to the Prime Minister on his visit to the Open Doors office in November 2015.

  • December 2015: Middle East petition - Over 16,485 supporters signed our petition on behalf of Christians in Syria and Iraq, including the Department for International Development (DflD) Minister for the Middle East, Desmond Swayne. Open Doors presented the petition to the Foreign Office, DfID and the Irish government.

  • March 2014: parliamentary meeting with North Korean refugee - Open Doors introduced North Korean refugee, Hea Woo, to Parliament where she told 39 MPs about her experience of being tortured by the North Korean regime for her faith.

  • 2013: Save Syria petition and campaign - Over 300,000 people from 99 countries signed a petition in support of Syrian Christians, bringing global attention to their plight.

BUT HOW DO WE BRING ABOUT POSITIVE CHANGE THROUGH ADVOCACY?

"Advocacy is about taking God's heart for justice and seeing what we can do to bring about positive change" – Stephen Rand, Open Doors Advocacy Consultant.

Quiet diplomacy: We speak with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials, UK politicians, and officials at the European Union and the United Nations. We seek opportunities to be involved in important conversations, aiming to influence opinion, present the reality of the persecuted church, and suggesting steps forward.

Public campaigning: In this country we have the freedom to campaign and write to politicians. We firmly believe that one voice makes a difference, but many voices joined together can create a movement for change. That's why the advocacy team facilitates opportunities for meaningful public action, enabling Open Doors supporters to write to their MPs, to ambassadors, sign petitions and attend meetings in order to amplify the messages from our persecuted family.

Uniting: Wherever possible, we seek to work alongside other organisations in order to create the largest impact. That’s why Open Doors is a stakeholder in the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief. This enables us to work together with parliamentarians and other charities passionate about Article 18 – the right to freedom of religion or belief – allowing us more opportunities to effect change for our persecuted family. We are also part of the Religious Liberty Commission New Window of the Evangelical Alliance, where Open Doors has joined with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Release International to provide a united voice for the persecuted church.

Please pray for the work of the UK advocacy team as we seek to present the needs of persecuted Christians to influential figures around the world. You can donate to the global advocacy work of Open Doors by selecting 'Advocacy Services' after clicking the button below.

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Further Reading:

 
"We must speak out for others persecuted for their beliefs"
- Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury