The 2019 World Peace Summit: 5th Anniversary of the WARP Summit
2019 World Peace Summit, with the title of "Legislate Peace" - Implementation of the DPCW for Sustainable Development, was hosted by an international peace NGO called HWPL in South Korea for 2 days from 18th to 19th of September.
On the day of the Peace Summit 5 years ago, politicians determined to support drafting an international law for peace, religious leaders pledged to make religions one under peace, and social representatives promised to encourage and support these efforts. We are gradually achieving the promises. Each country in the globe holds this event.
Marking the 5th Anniversary of the WARP Summit, the summit has been held worldwide with 300,000 participants over 166 locations in 113 countries including South Korea, Malaysia, Germany, France, Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, Republic of South Africa, and the United Kingdom throughout September.
The voices for peace are being spread to each corner of the world. Please find the attached press release and pictures enclosed to this email for coverage. Please write me back once you get my e-mail. Should you have any further inquiries, please contact me anytime.
The Coronavirus Spreads the Virus of Human Rights Violation and Intolerance
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus infections in South Korea with many cases found among members of a Christian denomination named the Shincheonji Church of Jesus is raising concerns that hatred and animosity targeted to the specific religious organization increase human rights violations.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), an organization under the Ministry of Welfare and Health, stated that 123 additional cases have been confirmed with the total of 556 as of February 23. Many of confirmed cases were found in the city of Daegu and the North Gyeongsang Province.
South Korean prime minister Chung Sye-Kyun in his public statement asked citizens to cooperate with the government and avoid large-scale gatherings and the virus has low fatality rate and can be cured sufficiently by early isolation and treatment.
But the South Korean government did not mention prohibition of entry from China, which has constantly been raised by Korean Medical Association and opposition parties. For the online national petition to the executive office for the President of South Korea on the prohibition of entry, no official responses have been made by the government despite 760,000 supports. The South Korean public news agency, Yonhap News, introduced the possible relationship between the influx of 1,000 Chinese school trips to Daegu last month.
The Shincheonji Church, which has gained main attention for the virus proliferation and counteraction, released a statement on the same day that the church is in close cooperation with the health authorities, including offering the full list of members the Shincheonji Church in Daegu to the KCDC, as many members of the church have been exposed to the virus after the 31st confirmed case from a member of the church was found.
With the fear of increasing infection cases, major newspaper reports and social media posts in South Korea turn their eyes on the Shincheonji Church, many of which are speculative information. Some South Korean media owned by the conservative and fundamentalist Protestant groups that have denounced Shincheonji released an article saying that Shincheonji ordered its members to participate in other church services so that the Coronavirus is not solely the Shincheonji problem.
“As a scholar who has studied Shincheonji, I am concerned with the fact that international media that obviously know nothing about it have “discovered” this church overnight because of the coronavirus incidents in Korea, and have repeated inaccurate information they found on low-level Internet sources,” said Prof. Massimo Intovigne, a well-known Italian sociologist of religion and the managing director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions).
“Even of more concern is the fact that Shincheonji members who have contracted the virus, who are the victims in this story, are being treated unfairly by the Korean media and described as “cultists.” Worse still, some Shincheonji members have been insulted, discriminated and forced out of their jobs, as scapegoats for what has become a national and international hysteria about the virus,” added Prof. Intovigne.
The negative attitude against the new Christian denomination is on the ground of decades-long confrontation with the conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups whose political activism raised controversies on corruption, which triggered breakaway from these groups and joining the new Christian movement led by Shincheonji.
“Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the illegal activities of the conservative church in South Korea, such as kidnapping and confinement for forced conversion, resulted in violence against the rapid increase of Shincheonji members. Intensifying the degree of indiscriminate hatred promoted by unfounded information in media and communication platforms poses a continuing, grave concern for the already gross violation of human rights against them,” said Willey Fautré, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF).
Forced Conversion that Violates Human Rights Becomes an International Problem
On 29 November, Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) from Italy and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) from Belgium hosted a seminar on human rights entitled “Intolerance and Discrimination Against New Religious Movements: An International Problem”.
This seminar, held in Seoul, South Korea, was devoted to the protection of the rights of religious minorities targeted by the majority groups, particularly in the context of anti-human rights situations such as the forced conversion that occurred in Korea.
Forced conversion, also known as “Deprogramming”, is a social issue that causes human rights violations by kidnapping and detaining the members of religious groups labeled as “cults” by their opponents in order to compel them to abandon their faith.
More than 80 participants including legal experts, journalists, and civil society representatives reviewed the current situation of forced conversion and discussed solutions to defend the freedom of faith and human rights that have become the norm of the international community.
Massimo Introvigne, Managing Director of CESNUR as well as an Italian sociologist, stressed that forced conversion is conducted through the mainstream by saying, “Korean deprogrammers are specialized pastors from the mainline churches, most of them Presbyterian."
"The protests that commemorate the victims from forced conversion were mentioned in the 2019 U.S. State Department Report on Religious Freedom, including violations of religious freedom in the year 2018. However, there were new cases of deprogramming even after their death," he criticized.
Regarding the multi-dimensional strategy to solve such phenomenon, Willy Fautré, Founder and Director of HRWF stated several suggestions; pointing at the responsibility of the leadership of the Presbyterian Church which tolerates, endorses, and maybe encourages such a practice; developing advocacy at the UN and in organs defending freedom of religion or belief; prosecuting those who encourage people to perpetrate an act of abduction and confinement.
In an open letter, signed by 15 international NGOs including CAP-LC and HRWF, to the South Korean President Moon Jae In on July 24th, it said, “South Korea may well be the last democratic country in the world where deprogramming is still tolerated” and asked the President to “investigate in-depth accusations of forcible deprogramming, put a stop to this obnoxious practice, and hold those responsible fully accountable.”
Meanwhile, South Korea was elected to serve the 5th term on the United Nations Human Rights Council on October 17th. South Korea’s mission to the UN said that it plans “to participate in the international efforts to respond to human rights crises around the world.” Participants urged the Korean government to respond to the issue of forced conversion which is still threatening the human rights of its people.
“From a victim of war to the leader of peace”
6th Annual Commemoration of the Declaration of World Peace and the Peace Walk is Held in a Global Scale
In May this year, marking the 6th Annual Commemoration of the Declaration of World Peace, about 70 countries host various citizen-participating events and peace walk. This event is aimed to mobilize a worldwide network of youths and citizens to spread a culture of peace in respective communities and to urge for the cooperation for building sustainable peace in the global society. Especially, Seoul in South Korea, where the Declaration of World Peace was proclaimed, will have the commemoration on May 25th.
With 30,000 youths from all over the world present, the Declaration was announced on 25 May, 2013 by an international peace NGO called Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and associated with the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC).
Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL, a war veteran, stated the background of proclaiming the Declaration. "We cannot claim to desire peace and continue to provoke one another, causing conflict for the sake of valuing our own national interests above those of others. This will only take the lives of the youth, wasting them in the futility of war. This is not a legacy we can leave to future generations."
The Declaration addresses the value of shared effort of all members of society as they work as peace messengers. It includes principles such as that the heads of each state to sign an international agreement—a commitment to bring all wars to an end, that all youth to unite in an effort to stop wars and pursue the restoration of peace, and that the media to report responsibly and promote a message of peace to the world.
Such values from the Declaration led to drafting the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) as an advanced designation of global responsibility to establish a legally binding international legal framework for peace. This year’s event will be focused on the “Peace Letter Campaign” led by the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), an affiliated youth organization of HWPL. The campaign is aimed to urge for the support of the heads of each state to develop it into a legally binding document by submitting it as a resolution to the UN.
According to the official of HWPL, the foundation of the DPCW is to build a world of peace secured by the rule of law that is based on the universal values including coexistence, cooperation, and mutual respect. The 10 articles and 38 clauses with the settlement of a dispute and measures for sustainable peace address the international cooperation at the governmental level as well as the role of individual of the global society to achieve peace.
At the commemoration of this year, the participants will call for the replies against the heads of state for the peace letters that have been already sent to them and the messages of peace written by citizens will be delivered to high-level officials of governments and international organizations in 193 different countries.
According to the data, there is a great potential for strengthening Georgian-Korean cooperation - Kim Se Woong
South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea is the most developed country in East Asia, according to Human Development Index. Its citizens enjoy a very high quality of life; have the highest individual income and average salary in Asia, and the eighth largest family income in the world. The country is the world's leading healthcare quality and business simplicity among leading countries. It is also one of the leading places in terms of education.
Recently Georgian-Korean relations are evolving and which is due to the great contribution of the Office of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Georgia and the Mr. Kim Se Woong – Charged Affair of the Embassy.
We asked him to talk about the Georgian-Korean relations, and Mr. Kim Se Woong agreed to give us an exclusive interview.
Mr. Ambassador, you have just arrived in Georgia. What is your first impression?
Before I express my impressions about Georgia, let me tell you that 10 years ago I worked in Baku and I was able to see your beautiful country even before. Of course I have heard a lot about Georgia before. Most importantly, I knew Stalin, Georgian wine, natural products and natural resources. And it is important to note that In Georgia people are very warm and hospitable.
What's the difference between 10 years ago Georgia and today?
First of all, it's obviously a eye-opener, it is an economic advance and a noticeable increase in the number of visitors. According to the last year, it was about 8 million tourists, which is 2.5 times higher than the population of Georgia.
What can you tell us about the prospects of economic relations between Georgia and Korea?
To look at this issue in terms of economic cooperation, we cannot say that cooperation between the two countries is at the highest level. I want to say that according to the today's data is of great potential for strengthening cooperation. First of all, your country is a fast developing country. As you know Korea has been strengthened after the Civil War. Therefore, we are trying to help your country in economic growth. Of course, it is of interest to invest in the economy of your country. Recently, On behalf of the Government of Georgia, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia Mr. Otar Berdzenishvili and Mr. Lee Tae-Ho - Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the of the Republic of Korea, signed the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of Georgia in regards to the Economic Development and Cooperation". This Agreement is a Framework Agreement which defines the key principles for the allocation of loans to Georgia from the Korea Economic Development and Cooperation Fund (EDCF). Within the framework of the Agreement, the Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund will be responsible for financing various projects in Georgia through Korea "Eximbank". It is noteworthy that additional agreements will be signed for financing each project within the framework of the proposed agreement, which will determine the financial terms of the loan. Consequently, this Agreement will facilitate deepening cooperation between Georgia and the Republic of Korea. Therefore, all this suggests that South Korea is ready to discuss all your proposals for strengthening bilateral cooperation.
Not only economic relations are also important for us, but we also pay much attention to the development of cooperation on the political level. As you know, in 2016 the speaker of the two countries met with each other and talked about deepening relations. In 2017 we celebrated 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in Tbilisi.
Which project will you outline in the field of cooperation in Georgian-Korean relations?
Of course, this is the project of the Nenskra hydropower project. The Nenskra Hydro Power Project project is the construction of the largest hydropower plant - in Georgia. The project will be implemented by JSC Nenskra Hydro, which was created in 2015 as a result of cooperation with the Korean Water Resources Corporation - K-Water (Investor) and JSC Partnership Fund. 280 MW Hydroelectric Power Plant will be distributed annually to Georgia at 1'200.00. Electricity will be supplied to the local market. Nenskra Hydro Power Project is being implemented BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) scheme, which envisages delivering free of ownership to Georgia in 36 years after entering the HPP. The HPP will start generating electricity from 2020, and the construction will be completed in 2021. Construction of Nenskra Hydro Power Plant is an important step towards Georgia's successful future, which will enable your country and population to improve energy security and improve local economic conditions. In addition, it should be noted that last year the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to 115 million dollars, which is 30 percent more than in 2017. Of course this is not a bad indicator, and we have the potential to increase our relationship. Also, the total volume of investments reached 40 million dollars and a 6 percent increase.
It is also a pleasure to see the potential of traveling between two countries. In 2017, for example, 7,2 thousand Korean tourists visited Georgia. Last year this figure was doubled and reached 13 thousand. According to the Georgian National Tourism Agency, this is the first result of comparison with other countries when the number of tourists doubled during one year. This fact indicates that the interest towards Georgia in Korea is sharply rising. And not only to Georgia. Everyone knows that Korean citizens love to travel too. For example, last year, 25 million people from around 50 million Korean nationals traveled to different parts of the world. One of the characteristic features of the Korean population is that they are looking for new and interesting countries and we can say that Georgia is in their one of the best interests.
Increasing the number of tourists in Georgia will also help to launch more air flights. Last year, three charter flights were made between Seoul and Tbilisi, and this year it will double. It is also possible to have the direct airline (Seoul-Tbilisi-Seoul) and negotiations are ongoing intensively between the respective agencies of the two countries.
How is the relationship between the two countries developing in the field of education?
Yes, as you know at the Free University of Georgia, there is a Korean language study section where 60 Georgian students are learning Korean. Of course they are willing to go to Korea and continue their studies in a Institute of Korea. Last year, the Korean Embassy provided a scholarship in Georgia and sent 3 Georgian students to study in Korea. Also, at least 3 students in Korea will be financed by our state in the current year. In addition, there is an International Center for Educational Studies at the Ministry of Education of Korea, which also accepts students from diffferent countries to continue their studies in Korea. We also have a Korean language academy that not only invites students but also sends professors and teachers in other countries to teach Korean language to the foreign students. Georgia has already reached an agreement that they will send a teacher this year, who will teach Korean to Georgian students at the Free University. The Korean professor will stay in Georgia for two years. We also have information that soon Korean Language coruses will be opened at the Ilia State University. All this points to the fact that Korea is becoming popular and the interest in the study of Korean language increases sharply in the field of history, music and traditions.
As for the cooperation in the field of culture, the relationship develops more fruitfully. Last year the Korean Culture Festival was held, and later Koreans working in Georgia (up to 120) held a music festival at the Free University of Georgia.
It is also worth noting that not only Georgians learn Korean, but Korean students also started studying Georgian language in Seoul. Otar Berdzenishvili, the Ambassador of Georgia to the Republic of Korea, has contributed greatly to this. He has organized these courses. It is welcome that relations between Georgia and Korea are becoming more and more evident. I hope these relationships will continue and the number of cultural events will increase sharply.
As for the current year's plans. What can can you tell us about it?
The round of political consultations will be held in Tbilisi in the current year and a high-ranking official will attend from the the Korean Foreign Ministry. In addition, in the first half of 2019, a high level visit will be held at the ministerial level.
At the end of our conversation, we can not finish the Interview without askin about the issue of denuclearization and peace keeping in the Korean peninsula. What does the Korean government do in this regard?
As you know, the next round of negotiations between the North and South Korean leaders is underway with the support of the President of the United States. We hope these meetings will continue for the year end too. All this suggests that the process of disarmament and peace keeping is irreversible and we are confident that we will achieve our ultimate goal of achieving the peace. I would also like to thank the Government of Georgia for its support to the peace process between South and North Korea. Of course, we support the territorial integrity of Georgia and the peaceful resolution of the conflicts.
Interview prepared by Avtandil Otinashvili
Translated by Lika Kaladze
Religious undemocratic suppression raises human rights concerns in democratic South Korea
Pastors incite family breakdown
A New York Times advertisement space on November 28th showed a wolf in sheep’s clothing holding money and chain in his hands while a woman is bound and persecuted. Titled “Ban Coercive Conversion”, the non-profit ad is to try to raise awareness of a South Korean woman kidnapped by her own family and came to die when she was forced to dissuade herself from abandoning her religious faith.
Ms. Gu Ji In, the victim from this conversion program, was taken by their parents twice to two different places – Catholic monastery and resort pension for months. Though the religious background of the family is a Presbyterian church, major denomination in Korean Christianity, the Catholic space with the approval from the Catholic members was used for anti-human rights crime. This type of forceful conversion exceeds 1,000 victims with deaths and war-like mental traumas.
To restore justice, a public rally with 120,000 participants in Seoul back in January requested a legal punishment on this criminal activity by Christian pastors who make the “Coercive Conversion Program” to encourage parents to kidnap their children and forcefully threaten them to convert.
Without being exposed to direct involvement into the physical violence, the pastors avoid the criminal law and financially benefit from the parents. Since today, the Korean government has not released an official statement.
Korea's Mainstream Christianity Becomes hotbed of crime
The social and political influence of Christianity in South Korea has made the civil rights ignored. The Christian Council of Korea (CCK) was established in 1989 as a unified organization of Christian churches with the majority of the Presbyterian denomination. With millions of church members, the CCK exerted its influence in presidential elections and leveling heresy for firm control over social and economic power. For the last 10 years, Korean media frequently have reported the corruption of the CCK.
The CCK’s controversies have raised concerns over not only social division in the country but global conflict. During the Japanese colonial period, the Presbyterian church encouraged Korean youth to participate in the war waged by Japan in Asia and the Pacific. In 1938, the church collected money to purchase weapons and claimed it was “the order of God for Christians in Korea.”
Under the sponsorship from the military dictatorship in the 1970s, this tradition transformed into an anti-peace slogan. Recently, the president of the CCK officially said that the citizens who held candle lights in Seoul Square for the resignation of the former President Park Geun Hye are “flea” (insect) and held prayer service “for the fall of communist (President) Moon Jae In in the name of Jesus.”
Another prayer service by the CCK left remarks against the international norm, which encourages war behavior that threatens global order. A former official from the Park government said, “For the stability of South Korea, we need nuclear armament.”
Responsibility and role of religion questioned
Pastor Noel Malik, Director of Pakistan Minorities Alliance in Italy, emphasized, “Denominations who exercise those actions are not Christian. They are extremist and anti-Christian. I want to ask them. In which chapter and which verse are you following to do such bad action? If the Bible does not say, why are you doing that?"
H.E. Samuel Sam-Sumana, Former Vice President of Government of Sierra Leone, said, “Governments should be encouraged and supported to develop clearly defined policies and laws against forceful conversion and those policies and laws should be fully enforced.”
“Importantly too, there should be collaborative efforts established and undertaken by countries in the same region to track and deal with such violations of rights,” he added.
"There have been 137 cases of coercive conversion after the death of Ms. Gu since January this year. This shows how Christian pastors are cheapening the lives of people," said Ms. Jihye Choi, co-president of Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs (HAC) in South Korea.
"In order to root out this kind of anti-human right conversion, international interest is of tremendous importance," she highlighted.