Protecting the rights of religious minorities

Duration: July 2019 – December 2022

Countries: Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia,  Iraq, Iran, Syria

Communities: Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, Armenian Christians, Yezidis, Baha’i, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Shi’a, Ahmadis, Muslims, Animists, Gafatar, etc.

What is this programme about?

This project supports minority activists and organizations that are working towards strengthening the rights of minorities of faith and belief, in regions where the need to act on these issues is the greatest: Middle East and North Africa, and South and South East Asia.

The project targets up to 14 countries: Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Syria. At the heart of the project will be building the capacity of local civil society and offer activists the opportunities to join forces and become the voices of their communities.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the human rights of religious minorities are respected and that these communities are protected from persecution and discrimination.

Who are we targeting?

Under this project, we are mainly targeting civil society and activists representing religious minority and indigenous communities from two regions of the world where religious minorities are suffering from serious human rights violations, widespread discrimination and marginalisation:

  1. The MENA region: Minorities including Chaldo-Assyrian and Armenian Christians, Yezidis, Baha’i, and many other religious communities across the region.
  2. South/South East Asia: Religious minorities, which varies depending on the country context including for example, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Shi’a, Ahmadis (Bangladesh) Christians, Muslims, Animists (Myanmar), Ahmadis, Gafatar, atheists, Animists (Indonesia), etc.

What are we aiming to achieve?

  • Strengthened capacities and protection of religious minority activists/CSOs to monitor, document and report rights violations, and design and implement targeted approaches to address discrimination and human rights violations.
  • Greater collaboration within civil society at national and regional levels across Asia and MENA on identifying, preventing and challenging religious persecution and discrimination, and on building inter-faith understanding.
  • Improved systems for collecting and reporting religious minority rights violations are established and supported in target countries. This ensures that reliable information on violations can be communicated to key advocacy targets, and that civilians and local activists in countries at risk can themselves have a voice in defending their rights.
  • Increased attention by local /national authorities, regional bodies and UN human rights mechanisms and/or other actors to religious persecution and discrimination and increased willingness to take active steps to prevent and combat violations and discrimination.
  • Publication and wide dissemination of high quality, up to date information on the abuses, rights’ denial and discrimination faced by religious minorities, to address the information gap that exists between key stakeholders at the local, national, regional, and international levels, and the situation regarding FoRB and religious minority on the ground in the target regions.

Last but not least, the project has a specific strand of challenging discrimination/prejudices and promoting inter-faith understanding. This work encompasses different efforts notably

  1. The development of a digital learning resource aiming for diversity and inter-faith understanding through education
  2. Provision of sub-grants for civil society to implement small projects promoting inter-faith understanding possibly through the use of the arts.

Who are our partners?

Our partners are:


The Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies is a research, education and documentation center in Oslo focusing on the Holocaust, other genocides, extremism, anti-Semitism, hate speech, and the situation of minorities in contemporary societies.

The Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights is an international initiative to develop civilian-led monitoring of violations of international humanitarian law or human rights; to secure accountability and reparation for those violations; and to develop the practice of civilian rights.

Who is funding this programme?

This programme is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

The midterm evaluation report of this programme, published in July 2021, is available here.

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