2019 TIRFF Speakers
Andrew Khoo graduated from King's College London in law and history and philosophy of religion and, after working with internally-displaced persons in northern Uganda for a year, was called to the Bar of England and Wales in November 1991 and the Bar of the High Court of Malaya in Malaysia in May 1995. He has been in active legal practice in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 24 years. He is currently serving his 11th year as an elected member of Bar Council Malaysia, the regulatory and representative body for lawyers in peninsula Malaysia, and is Co-Chair of the Constitutional Law Committee. He has represented the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), the Malaysian Bar, the Council of Churches Malaysia, the Diocese of West Malaysia and the Bible Society of Malaysia in watching briefs before the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court in election petitions, constituency redelineation, child custody, citizenship and freedom of religion cases.
Ms. Asiya Nasir, former parliamentarian, has served for three terms in the National Assembly of Pakistan. She was also Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology and served in various committees of National Assembly such as: Public Accounts Committee, Minorities, Rules and Procedures, Planning and Development, Defense Production, Climate Change Committee.
She was a founding member of the women parliamentary caucus. She served as the first chairperson for the “All parties group of parliamentarians for interfaith harmony and freedom of religion”.
She's known for her speeches speaking for the rights of minorities and deprived communities.
Ms. Asiya Nasir has a wide range of experience with national and international organizations with focus on promoting education and interfaith harmony, the eradication of poverty, and community development.
Atahar Kamal Musalman
Atahar Kamal Musalman
Hon. Atahar Kamal Musalman is the chairperson of the IPPFoRB – Nepal Chapter. He represents the people of Kapilvastu District as an elected Member to Federal Parliament of Nepal. He is one of the MPs to IPPFoRB Nepal – Chapter since 2016, and advocates for human rights issues in the Parliament. He is associated to Nepali Congress, the opposition party in the current Government, in which he serves as Central Committee Member. His accepted the role in the Parliamentary Committee for the Law, Justice and Human Rights, and represents his party to the FoRB concerns. In his district, he chairs the Lumbini Integrated Development Organization, an NGO to render the holistic services to the backward communities. Mr. Musalman is married to Devkala Subedi and father to two children.
Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist and writer specializing in Asia, particularly Burma, Indonesia, China and North Korea. He is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organization CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, a Senior Fellow of the Religious Freedom Institute and trustee of several charities. He is the author of six books, including Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads, and has recently published a major new report, Burma’s Identity Crisis: How ethno-religious nationalism has led to persecution, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. He is a regular contributor to international media, including The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the National Review, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, the Catholic Herald and UCANews. He has an MA in China Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.
Bastiaan Belder, born on 25 October 1946 in Ridderkerk, the Netherlands, studied Contemporary History at the University of Utrecht, with specialisation in Eastern European and Chinese History.
Afterwards, he was a teacher of history at a secondary school in Rotterdam for 15 years. Belder served thereafter alsof with a Christian Daily in the Netherlands (Reformatorisch Dagblad) in Apeldoorn, where the covered Russia/the Eastern Bloc, the People’s Republic of China and the Middle East (especially Israel) for 15 years.
In 1999. he was voted a Member of the European Parliament, which he continues to today. As standing member of its Committee for Foreign Affairs, Belder wrote reports on the relations of the European Union with Russia, Iran and four times on China.
Freedom of religion is a continuing theme for him in the Committee for Foreign Affairs. Therefore Belder hosted Dr. Bob Fu from ChinaAid for seminars several times in the European Parliament. As China-rapporteur, MEP Belder is a staunch supporter of the freedom of the Republic of Taiwan and its citizens.
Rev. Bob Fu, Ph.D, was a former student leader during the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989. In 1993, he graduated with a law degree on international relations from Renmin University of China in Beijing. He was a faculty member at the Beijing Party School of the CCP from 1993-1996. He was also a house church leader in Beijing until he and his wife, Bochun “Heidi” Cai, were imprisoned in 1996. In 1997 he was exiled to the U.S. with his family due to President Clinton’s intervention. In 2002, he founded ChinaAid in Philadelphia to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China. He graduated with Ph.D. from St. John’s College at the University of Durham in the U.K in the field of religious freedom. His autobiography, God's Double Agent, was published in 2013. Bob regularly testifies and briefs policymakers and legislators on religious freedom and rule of law as well refugee issues in the free world. Bob Fu is a member of Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Law and Religion Monitor journal.
Member of the European Parliament, European People’s Party (EPP)
Csaba Sógor was awarded a Bachelors in Theology in Romania before carrying out his postgraduate studies at the Universities of Zürich and Basel in 1992. He was a pastor in the Reformed Church, serving in Ciceu from 1988 to 1999.
Part of the Hungarian minority in Romania, he is a member of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania. Mr. Sógor was a Senator in Romania from 2000 to 2007. Following the 2007 elections he left the Romanian Senate and took his seat in the European Parliament. Subsequently, he was re-elected in 2009 and in 2014. In the EP, Mr. Sógor sits in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and in the Delegation for relations with Japan. He is also substitute in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and in the Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
As a member of the EP’s Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages, Mr. Sógor has worked extensively for the promotion of minority rights in Europe and beyond.
David Campanale has worked in international journalism for 30 years. He is a producer and reporter with BBC World News in London, where he has covered religious liberty issues around the globe, including events in China, Syria, Myanmar, the Philippines and Ukraine. A trade union activist and rights campaigner, David has served in local government in London, been a director of a major international disaster relief and development charity and worked in Parliament. He lectures internationally on the roots in the Bible of parliamentary systems and the rule of law. And with his wife and family, he is a Mission Partner with Church Mission Society, Britain’s oldest Christian mission agency.
Doug founded ExL Petroleum LP in August, 2005 after working many years in the energy industry. He is also very active in community and charitable endeavors. He formed the Bison Foundation which provides resources to underprivileged youth. He is Chairman of the Board for China Aid Association and is Chairman of the NEXT Lab Oversight Committee at Abilene Christian University. Doug is a 1979 graduate of the Texas Tech University with a B.A. degree in Business Administration. He received his J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law and is licensed by the State Bar of Texas.
Eugene Yapp holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B Hons), University of London, Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP), University Malaya & Malaysia Legal Qualifying Board and a Master in Christian Studies (MCS), Malaysia Bible Seminary. He was an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya from 1993 to 2007.
He is now a Senior Fellow of the Religious Freedom Institute of the South and Southeast Asia team and the Programme Consultant for the coalition of civil society organizations in Malaysia called Plan of Action Malaysia where he oversees their Unity in Diversity programmes including issues of religious freedom and harmony. He is also the Director of RFL (Religious Freedom & Liberty) Partnership, a setup for the promotion of religious freedom for all persons. He was formerly the Secretary-General of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia (the evangelical alliance of Malaysia).
Greg Mitchell serves as co-founder and co-chair for the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, a gathering of representatives from non-governmental organizations who meet to advance international religious freedom; and founder of the The Mitchell Firm.
Mitchell founded The Mitchell Firm in order to focus on government reform and improving public policy, with a stated goal of pursuing “ultimate in freedom and independence for every individual in every country on every continent.” Mitchell previously served as the Vice President and Business Manager of Keelen Communications, a political consulting and fundraising firm; Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman James E. Rogan; co-founder of Digital Campaigns, Inc., a software company that offered online database solutions for political and grassroots campaigns, whose clients included Congressman John Boozman and the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the political team of President George W. Bush.
James Chen is the Vice President of Global Operations at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE).
Prior to joining IGE, he was a Research Associate and Academic Resources Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies.
Prior to his time at the NESA Center, James worked in Taiwan for over seven years at Overseas Radio & Television (ORTV), a non-profit Christian media organization based in Taipei. James also served for a year in Taiwan’s military.
James has a Master’s degree in International Relations and Security from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese. A native of Flushing, NY, James now resides in Northern Virginia with his wife and two sons.
Ms. Ji escaped North Korea in 1998; she was soon arrested in China and repatriated to North Korea. In 1999 she escaped again and was arrested by Chinese authorities and forcibly repatriated again and was sent to the ‘Jeungsan’ kyo-hwa-so #11. In October of 2002 she escaped North Korea for the 4th time and resettled in South Korea.
Since her arrival in South Korea in 2002, Ms. Ji has been very active as a human rights activist, and in 2011 she wrote a book, ‘A Thousand Miles for Freedom’, and in 2017, she published a book of poetry, ‘The Last Gift.’
In 2018 she was commissioned as a missionary to North Korea, and continues her work, giving testimonies on the world stage at the UN, the US Congress, and recently at the US State Department’s first ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, representing the victims of the North Korean regime.
Ken Starr currently serves as Of Counsel to The Lanier Law Firm and as a guest commentator for various news programs. Formerly, he served as U.S. Solicitor General, U.S. Circuit Judge, Independent Counsel, and a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and Gibson Dunn. He also served as President of Baylor University and Dean of Pepperdine Law School.
For 25 years, Ken taught current constitutional issues at five law schools. He serves on the boards of Advocates International and the Christian Legal Society as well as the Advisory Board of Alliance Defending Freedom. Throughout his professional career, he has championed the cause of religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all persons.
Ken is author of First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life and his most recent book, Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation. He and his wife Alice live in Waco, Texas and are blessed with three children and seven grandchildren.
Kristina Olney is the Director of Government Relations for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kristina helped found In Defense of Christians, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of Christianity and religious minorities in the Middle East, serving as the organization’s Director of Government Relations for three years. She previously served for two years in the government relations department at The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a foreign policy think tank dedicated to advancing American leadership abroad, helping to manage the organization's leadership programs and engagement on Capitol Hill. Prior to her experience in the nonprofit and think tank sectors, Kristina served the U.S. government's Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and on the House Foreign Affairs Committee for Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) as a Fellow of the John Jay Institute for Faith, Society, and Law.
Ms. Louisa Greve serves as UHRP’s director for external affairs. She is an expert on human rights in China and an experienced non-profit advisor. Her first visit to East Turkestan was in 1988, and she has traveled and worked in China since 1980. She is currently Washington Fellow for CSW, a UK-based advocacy group promoting freedom of religion or belief for all peoples and faiths. Ms. Greve was formerly Vice President for Programs and East Asia Director at the National Endowment for Democracy, with previous experience at Special Olympics International, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the United Nations Development Program. Ms. Greve has served on the Amnesty International board, the Virginia Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the International Advisory Committee of the Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China. She is the author of several book chapters on ethnic issues and human rights in China, and has testified before Congress on democracy in Asia.
Lucia is the Advocacy and Training Coordinator for Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) which is an international, nonviolent and democratic membership organisation. Its Members are indigenous peoples, minorities, unrecognised States and occupied territories that have joined together to defend their political, social and cultural rights, to preserve their environments and to promote their right to self-determination. She provides advice and training to UNPO members on advocating for their causes, and leads our advocacy before international institutions. She has focused on international relations and diplomacy throughout her career.
Dr. Mantas Adomėnas (b. 1972) was educated as a Classicist at Vilnius and Cambridge Universities where he wrote his doctorate on Plato and the Presocratic philosophers and was a Fellow at Gonville & Caius College. He presided over the Institute of Democratic Politics, a Lithuanian Conservative think-tank, and was in charge of the Homeland Union (Lithuanian Conservatives) electoral strategy in the victorious 2008 parliamentary election in the course of which he was elected to the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania where he serves to this day for the third consecutive term.
Dr. Adomėnas is one of the architects of the Lithuanian higher education reform (2009), author of Global Lithuania (Relations with diaspora) strategy (2010), and the Lithuanian Parliament resolution “On the Genocide of Christians and Other Religious Minorities in the Middle East and North Africa” (2015). He works on a range of issues, including religious freedom, culture and education, migration policy, foreign affairs. He publishes essays and scholarly articles on topics ranging from Classics and architecture to political philosophy and current affairs.
Massimo Introvigne is founder and Managing Director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) in Torino, Italy and editor of the daily magazine on religious liberty in China, Bitter Winter. He has been until 2016 professor of Sociology of Religions at Pontifical Salesian University, also in Torino. He is the author of more than 70 books in the field of Sociology of Religions, mostly devoted to new religious movements. He served in 2011 as the Representative of OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) for combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance and discrimination against Christians and members of other religions. From 2012 to 2015, he was Chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mukunda Kumar Sharma
Mukunda Kumar Sharma
Pastor Mukunda Kumar Sharma is the Executive Secretary to Nepal Christian Society. He is the Founder and Chairperson of Transformation Nepal, Chairperson ITEEN, Secretary of Gospel Recording Nepal, Secretary of Safe Family faith-based NGOs, Spokesperson of RLF, Executive Members of Micah Network, Secretary General IPPFoRB – Nepal Chapter, Senior Pastor of Bethel AG church at Bhaktapur Nepal. He worked with the United Nations Center for Regional Development (UNCRD) as a national consultant.
Rev. Sharma Holds Masters’ degree in Development Studies (MDS) and Master’s in Theology. He has a Bachelor’s in business administration (BBA). More than 25 years’ experience, mainly on management level as part of the Leadership Team in many organizations, experienced in policy and strategic work.
Nadine Maenza is a noted speaker, writer, and policy expert with more than two decades of experience as an advocate and champion for working families and international religious freedom. Nadine is the founding Executive Director of Patriot Voices, where she has shaped the organization’s special emphasis on public policies that help working families. She also served as the Chairman of Hardwired Global, an organization working to stop religious oppression around the world, where she was involved in efforts to have violence against religious minorities in Iraq labeled genocide by Congress and the Obama Administration. She was appointed by President Donald Trump to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in May 2018. She has spoken at several conferences on freedom of religion or belief and has met with senior government officials from around the world. She is honored to have met with persecuted communities of various faiths from some of the most repressive countries in the world.
Mr. Nasim Malik a human rights activist, a veteran Swedish National, and local politician. Currently, he is the Member of the city Council Kalmar & President of the International Social Democrats wing Kalmar. He has worked for more than ten years with the Swedish Immigration Board (SIV). In Sweden, he is a famous human rights activist known for his volunteer efforts.
He was appointed as IHRC Ambassador At Large for Scandinavian Countries on 16th April 2012 & Vice President of Council of International Faith & Harmony. He is also member of Supreme Council of IHRC and representing IHRC in Geneva and Brussels on the Freedom of Religion and Belief issues of the minorities in Asia.
Mr. Malik travels all over the world to raise the ongoing persecution of the minorities in Asia and Southeast Asia. As a Secretary General of the International Human Rights Committee, he has traveled with renowned human rights activists, lawyers, diplomats, and journalist on the fact finding missions regarding the persecution of the minorities in Asia.
Ngodup Tsering has been the current Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to North America since December 2017. He is based in Washington DC. He was born in Tibet in 1953 and escaped into India with his parents, at the age of 6. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Punjab University, Chandigarh India.
He was a member of Tibetan Parliament in 1979 and served for a term of three years. In 1982, he joined the Tibetan Administrative Service as a deputy Secretary of Education and Home Affairs and Director of Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts.( TIPA) and eventually, as the Secretary of Education of CTA. In 2000, he left CTA to be reunited with his family in US. He served as the President of Tibetan Foundation of Minnesota and also, the President of Tibetan Association of Northern California. In 2012, he was invited back to CTA where he served as the Education Secretary and subsequently, as the Kalon (Minister) for Education of CTA. He serves as the Chairman of Tibetan Community Development Fund, Inc.
Olivia Enos is a policy analyst in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation where she focuses on human rights and national security concerns in Asia. Her work primarily covers threats to freedom in North Korea, Burma, China, and Cambodia, among other countries. She also has a bi-monthly column in Forbes. Olivia's research and writing has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among other reputable sources, and her commentary regularly appears on the BBC, Fox News, and CNN. She graduated with a master in Asian Studies from Georgetown University and her BA from Patrick Henry College. She and her husband live in Washington, D.C. with their Boston terrier, Mazie.
Oktyabri Baasankhuu is a current member of the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia. He serves as the chairman of the Mongolian Parliament Lobby Group for Religious Freedom and Human Rights. He graduated from the School of Law at the National University of Mongolia. He then worked as a lecturer and then as Chairman of the “Rule of Law” NGO. From 2008 to 2012, he was a member of Human Rights Board at the Mongolian President Office. For the next four years, he worked as a legal advisor at Embassy of Japan in Mongolia. He was first elected as a member of the Mongolian Parliament in 2015 where he served as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Petitions. Since 2016, he has served as the leader of the MPRP-MNDP Justice Coalition Caucus.
Rushan Abbas is an ardent campaigner for the human rights and democracy movements of Uyghurs. Her activism started in 1985 by participating in the initiation of pro-democracy demonstrations at Xinjiang University. She served as the Vice-President of the Students’ Science-Culture Union, which was the organizer of the 1988 protest.
In 2017, Rushan Abbas founded Campaign for Uyghurs to advocate, promote human rights and democratic freedoms for Uyghurs, and mobilize the international community to act to stop the human rights atrocity in East Turkistan.
Ms. Abbas frequently briefed the U.S lawmakers and officials on the human rights situation in East Turkistan. She regularly appears on media outlets to advocate for the Uyghur cause and gives public speeches in universities and think tanks. Ms. Abbas previously served as the Vice President of the Uyghur American Association for two terms. She was the first Uyghur reporter and news anchor at the Radio Free Asia-Uyghur in 1998.
Rebiya Kadeer is a prominent Uyghur political leader, entrepreneur, rights advocate, and humanitarian. She is the president of the World Uyghur Congress. Born into a poor family, Kadeer rose to become one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs. In 1997, Kadeer launched the “Thousand Mothers Movement" to promote job training for Uyghur women. In August 1999, after denouncing state oppression of the Uyghurs, she was charged with “providing secret information to foreigners," tried in secret, and sentenced to eight years in prison. She was incarcerated for more than five years in a region where prison conditions are notoriously harsh and spent two of those years in solitary confinement. Under international pressure, the Chinese government released Kadeer in 2005, on medical grounds. Kadeer fled to exile in the U.S. Called the “Mother of the Uyghur nation," she was awarded the Rafto Prize in 2004. She is also the author of “Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China.”
Naeem( Khin Maung Myint) is a Rohingya rights activist lives in Yangon. He is also active in interfaith activities and currently he is a working group member of Law Ka Thar Ra interfaith foundation led by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo and other prominent religious figures from Buddhist, Islam, Hindu and other faiths.
Naeem has been interviewed by many media outlets like CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, The Nation, CNAI, NHK, Myanmar Times, VOA, RFA, TRT World and many others.
Naeem was also an active member of Aung San Su Kyi’s National league for Democracy party (NLD), from 1988 till 2010 and actively participated inside and outside of the country for release of ASSK from house arrest, release of political prisoners, transferring power to elected civilians in 1990 election, imposing embargos on regimes and many other issues.
Naeem participated many conferences hosted by FoRB and RFI, SEAHUM, Sejuk as panelist.
Seng Mai Aung
Seng Mai Aung
Seng Mai Aung (Program Officer for Myanmar, Institute for Global Engagement)
Seng Mai Aung is the Program Officer for Myanmar at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and is based in Yangon. Prior to joining IGE, she worked at the UNESCO-APCEIU in Seoul, Republic of Korea, where she organized training workshops for educators from the Asia-Pacific region and Africa on peace education, human rights, cultural diversity, and education for international understanding.
Seng has a B.A. in Korean Language from the Yangon University of Foreign Languages, a B.A. in English Literature under the Religious Studies Program at the Myanmar Institute of Theology, and a M.A. in Educational Administration and Higher Education from Korea University. She holds certificates on “Managing Intergroup Conflict through Facilitations” from the United States Institute of Peace and “Religion and Mediation Course” from Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Center for Security Studies. She was invited as a visiting scholar at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University.
Siju Thomas serves as the Director, Interventions in ADF India, developing legal strategy and advocacy initiatives to respond to increasing instances of violence against Christians in India. Under his leadership, the Interventions team collates information on persecution reported on it’s toll free helpline number and works with social activists and law enforcement agencies to deliver immediate relief to victims.
As a litigating lawyer, Siju practices in the Supreme Court of India and has been part of seminal religious liberty cases across India including challenges to the anti-conversion laws promulgated by State legislatures.
He earned his LL.B. from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, New Delhi. He is a Fellow of the prestigious Blackstone program of Alliance Defending Freedom. Siju joined the ADF India team in August 2017.
Stephen has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Veritas Development Collaborative Limited, an Agribusiness Consulting Firm in partnership with Galilee International Management Institute, Nahalal Israel. Stephen also pioneered as Executive Director of Ayobola Pension Foundation in Nigeria where he advocated for the rights of retirees to affordable housing and sustainable livelihood. Stephen is a fellow of Equator Peace Academy of Uganda Martyr University and National University of Rwanda where he traveled the community of East African Region (The Great Lake Region) conducting research on memories in the community of living.
Stephen is President/Co-Founder International Committee on Nigeria (ICON). ICON works in the USA, UK and in Nigeria to raise awareness and build collaborative partnerships which provide a powerful roadmap to address both the erosion of religious liberty at home and violations of religious freedom abroad.
Leading on a number of initiatives, Stephen has partnered with International Religious Roundtable Secretariat to Washington to start Nigeria International Religious Freedom which is a multi-faith citizen engagement.
UN and International Policy Analyst
Mr. T. Kumar is considered an expert on United Nations and international policy issues. He served as International Advocacy Director for twenty-two years with Amnesty International USA. He also worked at the Quaker UN Office and served as the UN Representative for Peace Brigades International.
Mr. Kumar has monitored several elections around the world with former President Carter and served as Judge of Elections in USA. He frequently lectured at U.S. Foreign Service Institute where U.S. Diplomats are trained and served as Professor of Law.
Kumar was a political prisoner for over five years in his native Sri Lanka. Amnesty International adopted him as a Prisoner of Conscience and initiated a worldwide campaign to secure his release. He started his legal studies in prison and eventually became an Attorney-at-Law and devoted his entire practice to defend political prisoners and advance human rights.
Tina L. Mufford is Deputy Director of Research and Policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), where she coordinates the Commission’s Annual Report and oversees its work in East Asia-Pacific, South Asia, Central Asia, Russia, the former Soviet Union, and Turkey. Ms. Mufford has worked on and studied international human rights and democracy for more than a decade. Previously, she served as deputy director for Asia at the nonprofit, nonpartisan International Republican Institute (IRI), overseeing freedom and democracy programs and staff throughout 12 countries. She also served as an international election observer in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Before joining IRI, Ms. Mufford worked in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ms. Mufford holds a Master of Science in Comparative Politics (Democracy) from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Binghamton University.
Travis S. Weber
Travis S. Weber
Travis S. Weber, J.D., LL.M., serves as Vice President for Policy and Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, where he is responsible for religious liberty advocacy and the development of public policy from a Christian worldview. Travis is currently focused on building FRC’s international religious freedom advocacy efforts.
Travis has testified on religious freedom before Congress, and conducted religious freedom and human rights training in Iraq. His work has also appeared in a variety of television, radio, and print media.
Before joining FRC, Travis practiced law in the areas of civil rights, criminal defense, and military law. He holds a J.D. from Regent University School of Law, where he served as the Notes & Comments Editor on Law Review. Travis also graduated with an LL.M. in International Law (with distinction) and a Certificate in International Human Rights Law from Georgetown University Law Center.
Since 2004, Lawyer Tung has been working to advocate for Falun Gong in China and the CCP’s live organ harvesting crime. In 2005 and 2006, she edited and published two books for China human right lawyer Gao Zhisheng. In 2007, she published books that revealed the first investigation report of the CCP's organ harvesting.Tung rigorously investigated the abuse of ECMO tech in Taiwan National University Hospital NHBD and China for organ transplantation. She currently participates in the research of the Xinjiang Re-education Camp, and the medical community's abuse of technology for live organ harvesting.
Hon. Umita Bishwokarma represents from Province #1, the Easter Region of Nepal and serves as the Committee Member and coordinator to IPPFoRB – Nepal Chapter. She is one of the proportionate representative of the Dalit Woman to provincial parliament. She also serves as provincial committee member to the ruling party, Nepal Communist Party. She has given responsibility to Industry, Forest, Tourism and Environmental Committee in the parliament.
Ms Bishwokarma was elected to the agitating party, the Maoist, and contributed to the insurgency movement as the peoples' army, and after the party's mainstream political move, she has been actively serving the people of her political representation, and since last year (2018) she is the key activist towards Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Vo Tran Nhat
Vo Tran Nhat
Vo Tran Nhat is the Executive Secretary of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR).
Nhat regularly speaks on behalf of the VCHR at the U.N. Council on Human Rights in Geneva and led efforts to author the chapter on Vietnam in the Annual Report of International Prison Watch. He has also written several reports and articles on human rights in Vietnam, including an memorandum for U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance Abdelfattah Amor in preparation for his visit to Vietnam in 1998. He recently testified before the Danish Parliament to propose strategies for advancing Freedom of Religion of Belief in Vietnam.
Nhat holds a Master’s degree of Public Law and a post-graduate diploma in European Law from the University Paris XII. He is currently preparing a PhD on Vietnam history at the University Paris Diderot.
Yang Seng-Hong was born in 1953.He got his Doctor of Dental Surgery in Taipei Medical University in 1979 and got his dentist’s certificate at the same time. In 1981, he got his Master Degree of Physiology in National Taiwan University. In 1983, he got another Master Degree of Public Health in University of California, Berkeley. He was an executive and a consultant for different press media. He has also won numerous press media awards.Yang is the founder and chairman of Taiwan Association for China Human Rights. He has been lobbying for the passage of the Asylum Bill in Legislative Yuan of Taiwan.He is the host of Radio Taiwan International’s (RTI) daily program, “Voice for the People—Yang Seng-Hong Time,” which focuses on freedom of human rights and is broadcast to China through short and medium waves. He conducts exclusive interviews with dissidents in China. The program has been in broadcast since 2005. He has interviewed political prisoners, such as Xiao-bo Liu, Zhi-sheng Gao, etc.
Samy is Program Manager for the Religious Freedom Program at Freedom House. A specialist in religious freedom, he previously led the International Coptic Union in the UK. He earned his Ph.D in International Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, LLM in International Law from the University of Edinburgh, his MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University (as a Fulbright scholar), and his BA in Economics and Political Science from Cairo University. Samy has served as project consultant for many organizations, including the European Union-United Nations Joint Migration and Development Initiative, and Middle East Development, Dialogue and Solidarity in Cyprus. He was also senior program coordinator for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, research assistant with the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Egypt, coordinator and consultant with the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, trainer for Danmission in Denmark, and research assistant for the Middle East Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In his career, Samy’s work has contributed to opening channels of communication, and highlighting common understandings and misunderstandings among religious leaders from different faiths in areas witness religious crises. Samy and his team at Freedom House work to enhance the capacity of local CSOs to address ongoing challenges to religious freedom during religious crises in a more sustainable fashion.
Johnson Michael lives in Pakistan. After completing his studies, he began working as a teacher in St. Patrick School Karachi. After three and half years, he joined an organization called Caritas Pakistan in Punjab. In 1990, he was elected as a Parliamentarian in the Punjab province of Pakistan. From 1990 to 1999, he served as Member of Parliament. Michael was also adviser to the chief minister of Punjab for minority affairs.
In 1999, General Musharraf took over and he dissolved the parliament. He left politics and to start work on the movement led by his Uncle, Bishop Dr. John Joseph, committed to repealing the blasphemy law from Pakistan. He started working for the persecuted church in Pakistan. In 2000, he began working for VOM USA. In 2004, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior before that he was nominal Christian.
Samuel D. Brownback
Samuel D. Brownback
Sam Brownback was sworn in as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom on February 1, 2018. He served as Governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018. Previously he served as a U.S. Senator (1996-2011) and a U.S. Representative in the House of Representatives (1995-1996) from Kansas. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. He also served as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture (1986-1993) and was a White House Fellow in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (1990-1991). Prior to his public service, Ambassador Brownback was a private attorney in Kansas and taught agricultural law at Kansas State University, co-authoring two books on the subject. He earned a B.S. from Kansas State University and a J.D. from the University of Kansas.
|May 30 (Thursday)|
|09:00 - 09:30||Opening greetings & Welcome by International and National VIP leaders and Co-Hosts|
|09:30 - 10:40||Rising to the Challenge of Increasing Global Religious Persecution|
|10:40 - 11:00||Tea Break|
|11:00 - 12:30||Topic I: Religious Freedom from the Legislative Perspective|
|12:30 - 14:00||Lunch|
|14:00 - 15:30||Topic II: Persecution against Christian Community|
|15:30 - 16:00||Break|
|16:00 - 17:30||Topic III: Religious persecution and ethnic oppression of Tibetans ＆ Uighurs|
|17:30 - 18:30||Q & A|
|18:30 - 20:30||Welcome Dinner
The European Union and Taiwan: Partnership Religious Freedom(Taiwan Meal)
|May 31 (Friday)|
|09:00 - 10:30||Topic IV: The Global Context and Research on Religious Persecution|
|10:40 - 11:00||Tea Break|
|10:30 - 12:30||Topic V: The Role of Civil Society on Advancing Religious Freedom|
|14:00 - 15:30||Workshop: Challenges and Specific Solutions for Global Religious Persecution Areas
1. Taiwan Statement on Uyghur Issue
2. Religious Freedom in China
3. Taiwan Religious Freedom Roundtable
4. Religious Freedom and the International Rapid Response
5. Religious Freedom and the Unrepresented People
6. Religious Freedom in Southeast Asia
|15:30 - 16:00||Break|
|16:00 - 17:00||Groups Principal Report|
|17:00 - 17:30||The Ceremony of Taiwan Religious Freedom Roundtable formal Launch|
|17:30 - 18:20||Rising to the Challenge: TIRFF Concrete Initiatives
1. Taiwan statement on Persecution against Uyghur and Other Minorities in Xinjang
2. Launch of Voice of the International Religious Freedom (VoIRF) at Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
3. Initiative on Healthcare to the Victims of the Religious Persecution
4. “#NoMore” Organ Harvesting Declaration
5. An int'l Rapid Response mechanism toward victims of religious persecution
|18:30 - 20:30||Closing Ceremony & Moving Forward & Taiwan Indigenous People Meal|
|June 1 (Saturday)|
|10:00 - 10:40||Departure for International Participants and Press Conference|