Statement of the President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, regarding the 71st anniversary of the Council of Europe

Published in World
Thursday, 07 May 2020 10:43

Today, the 5th of May, marks the anniversary of the signing of the Statute of the Council of Europe in London by ten countries.
 
This historic development represents the first attempt towards a united European action to promote peaceful coexistence, prevent conflicts and promote and protect the fundamental rights of all individuals in Europe, without exception.
 
The Council of Europe, with its 47 member States, has been instrumental in agreeing common standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law for over 7 decades. Let me underline the fundamental role of the European Convention on Human Rights, drafted seventy years ago in 1950, by the then newly founded Council of Europe, that enabled the setting-up of a unique human rights protection system, constituting the anchor of European co-operation. I hope that this new decade will bring us the same determination to defend human rights as that of the authors of the Convention 70 years ago. It should be recalled that more than 830 million people living in our common European space have an ultimate right of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
 
This important anniversary coincides with an unprecedented global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our heartfelt sympathies go to those who have lost their loved ones, family members and friends. At this critical crossroads, we all have to be united and determined to do our utmost to overcome the current crisis.
 
After more than 7 decades of service to peace, democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights, the Council of Europe has contributed to number of significant achievements but there is still much more to accomplish. It is more urgent than ever to intensify our efforts to solidify respect for human rights in the years to come.”

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    The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it," said Massimo Introvigne as an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.

    Alessandro Amicarelli, Chairman European Federation for Freedom of Belief, pointed out that the South Korean authorities problematized Shincheonji as a cause of the COVID-19 crisis to shut down the church. “Already 30 other people were tested positive before the patient 31 (a member of Shincheonji criticized for the widespread of the virus). Many Chinese including ones from Wuhan had visited Daegu (of South Korea) and infection spread,” he said.

    Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), said that the recent attack on Shincheonji can be viewed as an attempt by the fundamentalist Protestant groups in South Korea to weaken and destroy the competitor in the religious market. He added, "Human rights violations against Shincheonji members through coercive conversion program (also known as 'deprogramming') with kidnapping and confinement for the last decade have been made as a result of the failure of competition from the Protestant churches in the country."

    Ciaran Burke, Associate Professor in University of Derby, said that the South Korean health authorities explicitly link Shinchoenji and outbreak of the COVID-19 until now even though a greater link between the virus and confirmation cases has been found in other churches. He also expressed concerns over “collecting personal information of 300,000 domestic and international Shincheonji members by the government which is a possible violation of international agreement, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) South Korea ratified in 1990.”

    The prosecution initiated investigation of Shincheonji leaders including founder Man Hee Lee for his alleged role in the widespread of the COVID-19. Three Shincheonji officials were arrested on July 8 on a charge of playing a role in major outbreak at its early stage by “(submitting) inaccurate list of members.”

    “The authorities ignored requests to change the word ‘sect’ in their official reports when referring to Shincheonji church. Local governments encouraged the residents to report Shincheonji congregation and facilities to the authorities, creating stigma that the members were to be treated as criminals,” said a Shincheonji official in the webinar.

    A recent statement issued by “families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19” wrote that "the thousands of the damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government." It added that the Minister of Justice Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that she is trying to avoid her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for a raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church”.

    A leading South Korean TV network, MBC reported that a recently conducted screening at Daegu, epicenter of COVID-19 major outbreak within South Korea added the weight to the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government. The report, citing analysis from a local university hospital, inferred that at least 180,000 of the total population of 2.4 million people in the city of Daegu were infected with the COVID-19, 27 times to the official 6,800 confirmed cases. Most of the confirmation cases, over 5,000, are members of Shincheonji Church as their personal information was collected by the government, while the remaining 180,000 potential infections have not been investigated.

    Press Release of the Department of Public Relations

    Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and the Restoration of Light

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    And Swami Vedanand Saraswati, a Hindu Spiritual Leader based in Durban stressed the tolerance and harmony. “As members of the HWPL, our primary goal is unity, equality, respect and tolerance. Only together can we overcome the enormous challenges we face. United we stand, divided we shall fall. Let us unite and support each other and stop these unwarranted attempts to tarnish pure intentions and righteous actions.”

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    God bless the souls of our Martyrs.

     

    ***

    Заявление Министерства иностранных дел Азербайджанской Республики

    12 июля этого года вооруженные силы Армении в целях захвата позиций на армяно-азербайджанской государственной границе в Товузском направлении предприняли попытку атаки c использованием артиллерийского огня. Атака вражеских сил была предотвращена ответным огнем. В ходе боев погибли трое военнослужащих азербайджанской армии, четверо ранены.

    Данную провокацию вооруженных сил Армении следует рассматривать в качестве продолжения заявлений и действий, осуществляемых за последнее время руководством страны-агрессора Армении, направленных на эскалацию напряжённости в регионе.

    Республика Армения, отразив элементы своей агрессорской политики в национальной стратегии безопасности страны, вместо устранения последствий конфликта и вывода оккупационных сил с международно-признанных территорий Азербайджана, отчётливо демонстрирует стремление к захвату новых территорий и росту напряжённости.

    Провокация вооруженных сил Армении ставит под серьезное сомнение значимость проводимых при посредничестве сопредседателей Минской группы ОБСЕ переговоров по урегулированию армяно-азербайджанского нагорно-карабахского конфликта. Данными действиями Армения стремится вовлечь в конфликт третьи страны. Однако позиция мирового сообщества относительно агрессорской политики Армении общеизвестна.

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