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

Published in World
Tuesday, 11 August 2020 12:19

On August 10th, 155 youth groups with one million members from 62 countries around the world sent a joint letter to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the 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 new Christian denomination headquartered in South Korea, and 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, said that he agreed with the UN's concern for the persecution of minorities and vulnerable groups as well as human rights violations that continue to occur in the pretext of fighting the coronavirus. To solve this problem, he proposed a joint letter to young people around the world to appeal to the international community.

He strongly urged that the Korean Government should knock off the prosecution of Shincheonji Church and HWPL in South Korea. "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," he added.

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

According to the report, there have been over 5,500 instances of human rights abuses of members of the Shincheonji Church during this period of the ongoing pandemic. Among the cases include two female members’ death in suspicious circumstances. Many of these victims are promising young people who are now facing increased discrimination in workplaces and schools, violence at home, and even forced 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 guidelines related to the pandemic.

Furthermore, the unprecedented custody investigation against 89-years-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 been subject to rigorous tax investigations. Those in leadership positions within the organizations also have been taken into custody for questioning.

In the Korea Times column titled “Can unpopular sect expect justice?”, Michael Breen, CEO of Insight Communications, referred the current investigation into Shincheonji Church as a “witch-hunt” by saying that Shincheonji is a safe target for politicians and others who comment in public since it is unpopular.

In the joint letter, they urged that cases of human rights, social and religious repression, 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."

 

Press Release of the Department of Public Relations

Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and the Restoration of Light

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    On February 6th, Heavenly Culture World Peace, Restoration of Light(HWPL) hosted a HWPL Peace Education Development Forum in Africa. 500 people from 24 countries in the sectors of African national education ministries, UNESCO national committee, MOU-signed schools and organizations participated to discuss ‘the Roles and Cooperation of Educations in the Post-COVID-19 Era.’

    The host organization, HWPL, is promoting international projects in 25 countries to develop long-term peacebuilding in Africa based on the its initiative ‘Spreading a Culture of Peace’ also proposed by the United Nations resolution.

    The forum highlighted the necessity of developing and applying a new educational policy to stop the disparities in education and human right violations such as sexual exploitation of children and women rampant in Africa during COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, speakers shared the examples of implementing HWPL Peace education curricula in their classrooms and reaffirmed the solidarity in promoting peace as educators in Africa.

    A member of the University of Zambia Youths of United Nations Association(UNZAYUNA) as well as the case presenter of HWPL Peace Education, Grace Mutale highlighted the importance of HWPL Peace Education, “Through HWPL Peace Education, I realized that I am the answer to realizing peace and determined to take part in peace work.”

    Deputy Director of Ministry of Education Kenya, Science and Technology, Bartholomew Lumbasi Wanikina said “Peace Education is important since through the teachers, children able to build and sustainable peace in their respective families, friends, community, workplace, and country.  Therefore, as educators, we must disseminate the message of peace so that children can have peace and have a sustainable peace,” emphasizing the responsibility and the role of educators in building sustainable peace.

    General Secretary, Cote d’lvoire National Commission for UNESCO, SORO N’ golo Aboudo said, “We would like to have an associated school so that this culture of peace program is taught in these schools, and that the children are really aware about the issue of peace and especially the issue of nonviolence.”

    During the forum, HWPL signed a MOA(‘Memorandum of Agreement’) with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Kenya, and signed Peace Academy MOUs(‘Memorandum of Understanding) with 13 schools. The department of peace education will work closely with peace academies to appoint and train on-and offline peace educators and conduct pilot classes on the value of peace.

    Press-release of the HWPL

  • Inter-continental Online Conference to Discuss the Role of Peace Education

    On January 24th, over 2,400 pre-registered attendees from 70 countries, including the Philippines, the U.S.A, Germany, South Africa, China, and South Korea, joined the online inter-continental peace conference to discuss the role of peace education.

    The conference was organized by a Korea-based international peace NGO, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) under the UN DGC and the UN ECOSOC in celebration of the 7th Anniversary of the January 24 HWPL Peace Day.

    The January 24 HWPL Peace Day declared by the Province of Maguindanao in the Philippines has been commemorated annually since the Mindanao Peace Agreement was made by the local government and civil society leaders on January 24th, 2014.

    The Peace Day was named after HWPL since the agreement was suggested by Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL, known as a Korean war veteran, to overcome the 50 years of conflict that resulted in approximately 120,000 victims in the region.

    With the theme, "The Role of Peace Education in Building a Peaceful World”, the celebration of this year aimed to raise awareness of peace education around the world and establish a global platform for peace educators to implement peace education in the educational system of each country.

    Followed by the congratulatory messages from social, educational, religious, and political figures including President of Court of Appeal of Cairo, Former President of the UN Human Rights Council, Former Adviser of the Ministry of Education of Guatemala, Archbishop Emeritus of Davao Archdiocese of the Philippines, Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL delivered his commemorative message.

    “Today, Mindanao is no longer a place of conflict; rather, it has become a model of peace to which the world looks. Once, the people of this region used to point guns at each other—now, they share food while sitting at the same table, despite their differences in religion and ideologies. Students who were once being trained to kill are now learning the precious value of life and peace through HWPL Peace Education,” he said.

    Dr. Ronald Adamat, Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines(CHED), who has made an effort to implement HWPL Peace Education by integrating peace education into the relevant higher education curricula, addressed the value of HWPL Peace Day and the progress of the peace education in the Philippines.

    “Youth will fight for peace but are not given yet enough skills, understanding, or opportunity to talk for peace. I wholeheartedly support HWPL Peace Education. It raises the awareness for our youth to become peacemakers - the much-needed values of the youth. Future leaders must effect change for the world's positive transformation. Our children need to be educated on how peacebuilding works effectively. Through education, the building of a truly peaceful world can one day become a reality.”

    HWPL Peace Education consisting of 12 lessons aims to train the educators and students with the value of peace by raising awareness of the importance of fostering a culture of peace. Since 2016, more than 200 educational institutions in 34 countries, including India, Israel, and the Philippines, have been designated as HWPL Peace Academies, and Ministries of Education from 9 countries have signed MOAs for implementation of peace education.

    Ms. Firoza Muradi, an educator from Afghanistan, said, “The Mindanao Peace Agreement in 2014 became a great model for countries like Afghanistan who experience wars and conflicts. I hope that the miracle of peace in Mindanao will happen in Afghanistan, and the beginning is from peace education. Through HWPL Peace Education, students seek answers to achieve peace in various ways, including harmony with nature, the value of cooperation, and how to protect their rights. I believe all of my students receiving peace education will grow up to be a peace messenger.”

    At the event, the official of HWPL presented the plan for 2021 such as Online Peace Educator Training Program, Peace Education Volunteering Program, and Online Youth Peace Love Exchange Project that mostly designed as online programs according to the pandemic situation.

    Press-release of HWPL

  • Inter-continental Conference for Culture of Peace through Education Will Be Held Online

    An inter-continental online peace conference will be held on January 24th, 2021, in attendance with about 2,000 participants from 17 countries, including the Philippines, India, Australia, and South Korea.

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    The event has discussed the history, current issues, and plans for long-term peace in Mindanao as a set of peacebuilding models based on the cooperation of actors in different fields with events that raised awareness of the need for securing sustainable peace.

    With the theme of "The Role of Peace Education in Building a Peaceful World”, this year’s celebration, in line with the International Day of Education, aims to establish a global platform for peace educators to implement peace education in the educational system of each country.

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    An official of HWPL said, “Through the 7th Anniversary of the January 24th HWPL Peace Day, we aim to raise awareness of the importance of peace education and culture of peace. It will be an opportunity to revitalize people around the world who are currently experiencing various violence and conflicts, especially since the onset of COVID 19, with a hope and spirit of peace.”

    Anyone interested in the event can join by signing up at https://tinyurl.com/HWPLPeaceDayZoomReg until the 23rd of January. The event will be live-streamed through https://www.facebook.com/hwplph/ from 16:00 (KST) on the day of the event.

     

  • Religions united to pray for peace and care for one another in the pandemic crisis

    While national measures limiting social activities bring out changes of daily routine due to the pandemic, efforts to understand spiritually about life facing diseases and related social changes are underway across religion.

    On December 14, 560 representatives from 31 religions in 80 countries including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism joined in an online gathering named “HWPL End-of-year Religious Leaders’ Gathering: United Hopes & Prayers for a Brighter 2021” to express words of consolation to humanity and reaffirm inter-religious commitment to and dialogue for peace.

    11 religious leaders representing different religions prayed for wisdom and solution to the multifarious life patterns affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. The video messages from religious leaders displayed their support for the role of religion in countering anti-peace movements such as discrimination, hatred and violence that can be exacerbated during the pandemic.

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    [Attachment1] Key Attendance List

    No.

    Country

    Religion

    Name

    Organization

    Title

    1

    India

    Sikhism

    Mr. Bhupinder Singh

    Guru Teg Bahadar Jalandhar

    Head Priest

    2

    Ukraine

    Judaism

    Alexander Duhovnyi

    All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Associations

    Chairman

    3

    India

    Jainism

    Pradyumna Shah Singh

    Religious Studies, Punjabi University

    Professor

    4

    India

    Buddhism

    Dhammapiya

    International Buddhist Confederation (IBC)

    Secretary General

    5

    India

    ISKCON

    Hare Krsna Das

    ISKCON Rishikesh

    Priest

    6

    Czech Republic

    Islam

    Hassen Tlili

    Alfirdaus Praha

    Imam

    7

    Romania

    The Orthodox Church

    Constantin Cârlan Ungureanu

    Biserica “Sfântul Ştefan”

    Parish Priest

    8

    Cambodia

    Buddhism

    Oeun Sam Art

    Supreme Patriarch's Cabinet

    Personal Assistant to The Great Supreme Patriarch

    9

    Sweden

    Ahmadiyya

    Agha Yahya Khan

    Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Gothenburg Mosque

    Chief Imam

    10

    United States of America

    Hinduism

    Bikram Paul

    The Hindu Temple of Metropolitan Washington

    Chairman

    11

    United States of America

    Protestantism

    Eldon Jones

    Good field church

    Pastor

     

    Press-release of HWPL

  • Human rights are at the heart of any post-COVID recovery

    EU marks Human Rights Day by signing new USD 3-million joint project with UNDP and OHCHR
     
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    The new programme launched by the EU, UNDP and OHCHR assists Georgia in reinforcing its achievements in promoting and strengthening human rights policies and practices, and addressing the areas of concern outlined by the independent assessment commissioned by the EU and the UN in 2019.
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    1. Enhancing the public bodies that are responsible for developing, monitoring and implementing human rights policies;
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