Buddhist chief high priest highlights role of faith leaders in ending human slavery

Dhammaratana signs the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery at Casina Pio IV on Tuesday. — Bernama photo

VATICAN CITY: Faith leaders can play a significant role to help raise awareness among the public on human trafficking and put a stop to the inhumane crime, said Malaysia’s Buddhist chief high priest Datuk K Sri Dhammaratana.

He said  modern  slavery in terms of human trafficking in today’s globalised world was no longer an issue that should be handled by governments or through legislation and enforcement alone.

Dhammaratana said religious leaders and faith-based groups could also work together with the authorities to address the problem.

“I believe that  faith leaders can play a role to help  spread the message that  any form of  slavery is a crime, such as through preaching and educational programmes not only to the community they serve in but also to the wider general public,” he told Bernama here yesterday.

Dhammaratana was here for the signing on Tuesday of the joint declaration of religious leaders against modern slavery, the first public statement by world faith leaders to work together in inspiring spiritual and practical actions to end any form of modern slavery and human trafficking by 2020.

The declaration, by leaders of the Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu faiths, was led by Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Dhammaratana was one of two signatories who represented the Buddhist faith and the sole representative from Malaysia at the ceremony.

Other  signatories  included Dr Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman, who  represented   the  Grand   Imam of Al Azhar Mohamed Ahmed  El Tayeb;   Grand  Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modaressi; Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Mata Amritanandamayi and Rabbi Dr Abraham Skorka.

Dhammaratana said that besides forced labour, prostitution and the sale of women and babies were other areas that must be addressed.

“Faith leaders must unite on these matters as slavery and human trafficking are issues that concern humanity. I believe that if we all work together, we will make a significant impact to eradicate slavery and human trafficking.

“We must ensure equal human rights for all and that everyone can live the life they deserve,” he said. — Bernama

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