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PRESS RELEASE NO. 08
Lutheran Assembly to Demonstrate in Protest
of Visa Denials
Bishop Schultz Offers "Sincere Apologies" to Those Denied
Canada, 23 July 2003 -
At an "extraordinary plenary session" last evening,
delegates to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Tenth Assembly agreed to
stage a public demonstration on Tuesday, July 29, to protest the
Canadian government’s failure to grant visas to 51 delegates,
visitors and staff.
700 participants in the international Lutheran gathering will process from the Winnipeg
Convention Centre to the Federal Immigration Office at the Forks,
where they will offer peaceful protest and demonstrate solidarity
with their brothers and sisters who were not able to enter Canada to
attend the ten-day meeting, hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Canada (ELCIC).
National Bishop Raymond Schultz proposed the protest march and
offered "sincere apologies" on behalf of the Canadian
church to the missing attendees. He said, "We want to be a
welcoming community" and went on to deplore the
"insensitivity and inaction" of the Canadian government.
introduced the flags of many of the countries whose delegates are
missing and asked that they be posted on the convention floor as a
silent reminder. LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko
announced an additional gesture in the placing of colored silk
scarves tied to the missing delegates’ chairs.
Bishop emeritus Dr Christian Krause, also announced the Assembly’s
intention to explore means of staying in communication with the
missing church representatives and eventually unite symbolically
with them in their own countries.
the fact that all of those affected by denial of visas come from the
poorest nations of the world. The Indian participants, who come from
the most marginalized communities in Indian society, have been the
worst affected. Other countries whose participants have failed to
receive visas include Bangladesh, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar, Philippines,
Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
Of the 51
individuals, 38 are delegates to the Assembly. The remainder are
visitors and volunteers.
indication of trouble came in May, when the Federation received word
that two visas had been denied from Columbian delegates. When Noko’s repeated appeals had received no response by the end of
June, by which time several additional applications had been turned
down, the LWF issued the first of several press releases regarding
the situation, to enormous media and public response.
leadership made a last ditch appeal to the Canadian government the
day before the Assembly’s official opening on July 21 to influence
them to grant the visas. It was the last of a series of pleas from
Noko to Canadian government officials.
remarks, Schultz made reference to the closing of borders in many
countries and noted the irony that "capital can move freely but
people cannot." In conclusion, and to a standing ovation, he
declared, "To this false god of exclusion, our communion must
Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place
21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the
Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth
Assembly including 380 delegates from the
133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest
decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years.
Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets
annually, and by its Executive Committee.
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