Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Leo van Doesburg, ECPM Representative in Eastern Europe, receives Award for Freedom of Religion and Conscience

The second Conscience and Freedom Award Gala took place in Timisoara, Romania, on the 3rd of December 2011. The event is organized by the Conscience and Freedom Association in collaboration with the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Religious Affairs and National Minorities, and aims to honor individuals who have espoused, established, defended and promoted the cause of freedom of religion and conscience throughout Romania. Recipients of the Conscience and Freedom Award include politicians, academics, activists, writers, religious leaders, diplomats, scholars and other individuals with inspiring stories, who were involved in defending and promoting religious freedom and conscience through their activities, writings, legislative initiatives or acts of courage. 

One of this year’s award nominees and winners, Leo van Doesburg, is a Dutch who has been living in Romania for the past 12 years in his stance for the advancement of Christian values in the political sphere and his efforts towards the fruitful collaboration between diverse religious and political affiliations. The award “for the promotion and safeguard of freedom of religion and conscience” was presented to Mr. Doesburg by the Hon. Marius Dugulescu, a Member of the Romanian Parliament who attended in his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Human Rights, Religious Affairs and National Minorities and Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Dignity.   

Leo van Doesburg’s statement on the recognition: “It was not only special because I have been living here for a long time, but because this is where people were shouting “Freedom” and “There is a God”, calling out for their fundamental freedoms! While West Europe became more and more secular, Romania taught us a lesson that freedom is not to be taken for granted, and that it was bought with a high price! Unfortunately, even in West Europe, freedom of religion and conscience are increasingly getting attacked. Therefore, Romania has in my view a responsibility to promote and protect these fundamental freedoms not only in Romania but throughout Europe!”

The gala commenced with the opening remarks of the President of the Conscience and Freedom Association, Nelu Burcea, who emphasized the significance of the second Gala being organized in Timisoara. Given that the first edition of the Award Gala was held in the Romanian Parliament, in March, Mr. Burcea underlined the symbolic implication of the second Gala taking place in the city that sparked the anti-communist revolution in December 1989. The first city to have made a call for Romanians to stand together for freedom, Timisoara has proved to be a beacon of hope and freedom for generations to come.

The introduction was followed by beautiful music performed by “Laudes Christi” Choir and Banat Philarmonica’s Choirmaster, Lucian Onita.

Other personalities awarded at the Gala were Senator Gheorghe David - MP, Deputy Dorel Covaci - MP, Titu Bojin - County Counselor and President of the Social Democratic Party in Timis, Francisc Boldea - Mayor of Lugoj, Stefan Dragulescu, MP – former Minister of Health and Rector of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Timisoara, Gabriel Ivanica – doctor, Gheorghe Catana – Principal of Logos Christian Highschool, Claudiu Ariesan – Lecturer at Faculty of Arts, History and Theology, West University, Vasile Tomoioaga – Editor of Timisoara daily newspaper, Nelu Mehedinti – former director of Voice of the Gospel Christian Radio Station, Oscar Berger -  head of the Timisoara daily newspaper, Pastor Mihai Maur – President of the Adventist Chuch in Banat and Ionel Tutac – Secretary General of the Baptist Union in Romania.

European Christian Political Movement Eastern Representative Leo van Doesburg’s was granted the award in honor of his contribution to promote Christian values and the freedom of religion and conscience in Romania, such as the collaboration with the Ecumenical Prayer Group in the Romanian Parliament, the annual Romanian Prayer Breakfast and numerous other conferences and trainings regarding human dignity and moral values.  

 “It was for me a special honor to receive the award in Timisoara, a city characterized by good relations amongst different religious denominations, cultures, and nationalities; a city with beautiful architecture and parks, but most of all beautiful people. The atheistic, communistic regime could not destroy the tolerance, beauty and heritage of the city. I do not think it is surprising that the revolution started there, almost 22 years ago. Timisoara is what I consider home and a cornerstone for ECPM work in East Europe.” 

(more information about the awards (in Romanian) you can find  here)

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