All Press Releases for August 26, 2020

Joint Letter Sent to UN Secretary General to Stop Human Rights Violations and Religious Oppression in South Korea

Organizations from 62 countries have come together to urge the UN Secretary General to address the persecution and discrimination of South Korean Church Group Shincheonji and well-respected Global Peace Organization HWPL.

    SEOUL, KOREA, August 26, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ -- On August 10th, 155 youth groups totaling 1 million members from 62 countries around the world sent a joint letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres and several UN affiliates, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The joint letter contained a request for recommendations to stop discrimination against Shincheonji Church, a minority Christian denomination headquartered in South Korea as well as a UN ECOSOC-affiliated organization named Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL).

The representative of this letter, the director and founder of FREE WATCH AFGHANISTAN, Mobeenullah Aimaq, stated that he agreed with the UN's concern regarding persecution of minorities and vulnerable groups in addition to human rights violations that continue to occur under the pretext of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. To solve this problem, he proposed a joint letter to young people of organizations around the world to appeal to the international community.

He strongly urged that the Korean Government should halt the prosecution of Shincheonji Church and HWPL in South Korea. Aimaq wrote, "Prosecuting Shincheonji Church and HWPL should be immediately stopped so that the international reputation of the government, known as a proponent of peace in the globe, will be saved."

In the letter, the groups reported several acts of unfair discrimination and oppression by the Korean government and the media against Shincheonji and HWPL by citing the concerns of the UN Secretary General regarding "disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, and the targeting of vulnerable groups" due to COVID-19.

According to the report there have been over 5,500 instances of human rights violations against members of the Shincheonji Church since the beginning of the pandemic. Among the cases lies two female members' deaths under suspicious circumstances. Many reported victims are promising young people who now face increased discrimination in workplaces and schools, violence at home, and even forced religious "deprogramming".

The letter highlights that the members of Shincheonji Church are also victims who were unfortunately infected with the virus despite following the government's COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

Furthermore, the unprecedented custody investigation against 89-year-old Chairman Man Hee Lee of Shincheonji Church and HWPL was recently determined. The charters of these two groups have been revoked by the government and they have also been subject to rigorous tax investigations. Those in leadership positions within the organizations have also been taken into custody for questioning.

In a Korea Times column titled "Can unpopular sect expect justice?", Michael Breen, the CEO of Insight Communications, referred to the current investigation of Shincheonji Church as a "witch-hunt", saying that Shincheonji is a safe target for politicians and other public commentators since it is generally unpopular in the country.

Robert Lebar, former project manager of MC ZoS, pointed out the current situation by stating "I believe firmly that these accusations about them are based on false rumors and presumptions. I request you to investigate on this matter thoroughly before taking a measure on to them."

In the joint letter the organizations urged that cases of human rights and social and religious oppression, such as the ones occurring in South Korea, must be put to an end in order to build "more effective and inclusive solutions for the emergency of today and the recovery for tomorrow."

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