Mongolia: First religious liberty meeting draws government, international religious freedom leaders

2 June 2008, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia...International religious liberty leaders joined members of Mongolia's government and major religious communities May 30 for the nation's first religious liberty symposium, meant largely to lay groundwork for a full-scale freedom of religion conference next year.

"This is an historic day for Mongolia in hosting this symposium on increasing religious tolerance," said Samdan Tsedendamba, secretary of the country's Council on Religious Affairs.

"Mongolians enjoy considerable freedom of religion," said John Graz, secretary-general of the International Religious Liberty Association, which jointly sponsored the event with the Northern Asian nation's Council of Religious Affairs. Graz joined more than 50 religious and government leaders for the meeting, which included a review of the United Nation's Documents on Religious Freedom.

Mongolia is home to nearly 3 million people, 50 percent of whom are Buddhist. About 40 percent claim no religion.

The IRLA's representative in Mongolia, Paul Kotanko, was invited to hold a forthcoming similar meeting at the Dashjoilin Buddhist Monastery. Organizers said last week's meeting will also lead to the 3rd Asian Congress on Religious Liberty next September.

Established in 1893, the IRLA is present in some 80 countries and is the world's largest non-sectarian forum dedicated to religious freedom.

[ANN Staff]