HWPL Hosts Peace Education Webinar by Connecting South Asian Countries during the COVID-19 Crisis
The Department of Peace Education in Western Busan branch, HWPL held the peace education webinar (web-based seminar) with about 30 people including education classes in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries in South Asia on September 19 (local time).
In spite of the global panic in the news about COVID-19, participants had a time to raise awareness of the importance of peace education through a video conferencing solution by sharing practical examples of peace education conducted in schools in South Asia, and live Q&A.
With the congratulatory remarks by Dr. Har Prasad Kain, chairperson Indian branch of HWPL (former commissioner of Indian Tax Commission) Mr. Mahbubur Rahman Mollah, principal of Bangladesh Shamsul Hoque Khan school and college, gave a speech on the necessity of peace education. Afterwards, Mr. Imran Maqsood, the founder of Faisalabad School for Peace in Pakistan, introduced cases of peace education, and Ms. Firoza Moradi, a teacher in Afghanistan Mukhtar private school, presented the role of peace education in countries including Afghanistan.
Mr. Imran Maqsood who signed MOU with HWPL for peace education addressed, “School aims to break down the religious and social barriers of all religious people in Pakistan, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhs, through diversity and harmony, the first subject of peace education, by creating a community where children from different religions gather together to learn, play and grow together.”
“To improve critical thinking and communication skills, students should have a concept of peace in their minds and find how to solve problems peacefully. Although classes have not been conducted since COVID-19, students have actively suggested that they want to take peace education classes even through online sessions,” Ms. Firoza Moradi, who has taught HWPL peace education since January last year, said.
In particular, HWPL's examples of peace education which have been actively implemented in each country drew attention from the participants in the webinar. 214 schools from 36 countries in Africa participated at the HWPL Peace Education’ sessions hosted by Ethiopia's Kotebe Metropolitan University. Since then the peace education has been regularly conducted. In addition, HWPL signed an MOA with Kenya National Commission for UNESCO to prepare for the annual Peace Educator workshop. In Philippines, Commission on Higher Education and HWPL have formed an MOA, which currently performs monthly peace education more than 50 schools. Especially, the HWPL Peace Education Camp between Israel and Palestine was the historical antecedents attended by 150 faculty and students crossing border despite the disputed territory.
Most of the attendees participated in the webinar emphasized, "Let's overcome the COVID-19 crisis together by continually sharing news of peace education by country!"
Press-Release of the HWPL
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.
During the prayer, Rev. Acharya Prem Shankaranand Tirth, Hindu High Priest of Shree Geeta Ashram of Delhi, said, “For our colleagues, families of peace, let us continue endeavor of world peace. During this pandemic, we must realize the value of one another in that we all coexist with the nature and other creations. We in the human society must act as one and should exist in peace, harmony and love.”
“I remember sitting at my desk and finding out about the first infection in my own country. I prayed, asking a lot of questions. Many of my peers turned back to scripture in these times to seek answers about the Creator God, His plan, His will and what He wants us to focus on due to these events,” said Ms. Nandi Bester, manager of International Youth Peace Group in South Africa.
“Today we may be able to solve the problem of COVID-19, but another disease will come. When winter is coming, we can't stop it but can cover ourselves and protect ourselves. That's what we can do when there is challenging issue of bad health and adversities coming in life. We should maintain patience and learn the art of tolerance and tolerate the difficulty and suffering that is coming upon us,” said Rev. Hare Krsna Das, Priest of ISKCON, Rishikesh, India.
“Regarding the question about how human society should understand why suffering such as COVID-19 occurs, we found that all religions are searching for an answer. In the process, those participating in this event, transcending time difference, pray for the safety of all regardless of their faiths. This is the clear difference from the time before the pandemic when news of conflict was filled with intolerance against groups from different backgrounds. In this respect, it has proved the possibility that humanity in a crisis can be united and one in peace beyond religion,” said a HWPL official.
The organizer HWPL is an NGO affiliated with the UN ECOSOC and had led national plasma donation from over 3,700 people in South Korea who recovered from COVID-19 to develop a cure throughout this year.
[Attachment1] Key Attendance List
Mr. Bhupinder Singh
Guru Teg Bahadar Jalandhar
All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Associations
Pradyumna Shah Singh
Religious Studies, Punjabi University
International Buddhist Confederation (IBC)
Hare Krsna Das
The Orthodox Church
Constantin Cârlan Ungureanu
Biserica “Sfântul Ştefan”
Oeun Sam Art
Supreme Patriarch's Cabinet
Personal Assistant to The Great Supreme Patriarch
Agha Yahya Khan
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Gothenburg Mosque
United States of America
The Hindu Temple of Metropolitan Washington
United States of America
Good field church
Press-release of HWPL
An Online Prayer Meeting for Religious People Around the World to End COVID-19
Amid the corona crisis, which causes about 500,000 confirmed cases and 8,000 deaths a day worldwide, a Korean-based religious organization called Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (hereinafter referred to as Shincheonji Church) hosted an online prayer meeting, “3rd Global Prayer Service of Religious People” on November 15th.
Broadcast live on the official YouTube channel of Shincheonji Church, the prayer meeting was organized to pray for not only the patients and their families in sufferings but also the government, medical staff, and volunteers fighting to overcome COVID-19. Along with 200,000 domestic and foreign members of Shincheonji Church, about 56,000 people around the world wishing to defeat this pandemic joined the prayer meeting at the same time.
Religious leaders from all over the world added their aspirations for the end of COVID-19 in the online prayer meeting. Their words carried the weight and sincerity as they have continued to work with Chairman Man Hee Lee, a representative of an international peace NGO called HWPL
Chairman Lee, as a war veteran, has practiced peace activities based on the love for humanity toward many victims of war and the words of Jesus, “glory in heaven and peace on earth,” as a believer. He suggested an online prayer meeting because “as the world is suffering from COVID-19, religious people around the world need to pray together to end this disaster."
“Too many people are suffering from COVID-19. In particular, many were infected within our church last February. Both the church members and citizens suffered a lot. We must actively step forward and pray to God for the extinction of COVID-19 in the globe and for the nation and the people,” he said.
352 religious leaders from Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, and Hinduism, representing 73 countries participated in the prayer meeting with one heart transcending religions and denominations. They shared the need of overcoming the crisis by taking the lead in resolving a disaster as religious leaders.
Dr. Anak Agung Diatmika, Secretary for International Relationship of PHDI Jakarta, said, “Genuinely from the inner of our heart consider as WE ARE ONE. We should continue our prayer till the end of the COVID-19 pandemic from the earth and continue our synergy among world religious leaders to keep the world peace, harmony, justice, and prosperity. I am so happy I can join this that truly brings world peace and harmony.”
Following this prayer meeting, about 4,000 recovered patients from COVID-19 who are also Shincheonji Church members will donate blood plasma to develop convalescent plasma treatments. Shincheonji Church has already conducted two large-scale plasma donation of 1,700 church members last July and September, and among them, 312 recovered patients donated twice.
Regarding the large-scale blood plasma donation, Rt. Hon. Hrant Bagratyan, Former Prime Minister of Armenia, sent his congratulatory message, “the action of those who decided to donate plasma at the request of the government deserves praise. If a vaccine is developed through plasma donation, it would be helpful worldwide."
A Shincheonji Church official said, “We have been conducting online service since February 18th, and praying at each worship service for the end of COVID-19, the safety of the quarantine authorities and medical staff, and the recovery of the patients. We will do everything we can with a responsible attitude until the end of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Press-release of HWPL
Joint Letter Sent to the UN Secretary-General to Stop Human Rights Violations and Religious Oppression in South Korea
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
4,000 Recovered COVID-19 Church Members in South Korea Declare Donation of $83 Billion Worth Plasma for Cure
A South Korea-based religious group named the Shincheonji Church of Jesus said that over 4,000 members of the church recovered from COVID-19 are willing to donate plasma for developing a new treatment.
The amount of blood will be about $83 billion worth if the 4,000 patients donate 500ml individually, according to the current transaction in the United States. “It is difficult to accelerate developing a medicine for COVID-19 with only 200 recovered patients who expressed their will to donate blood. The massive donation from the recovered patients in the Shincheonji Church will solve the problem of the lack of blood for research,” said an official from Green Cross Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company in South Korea.
For the first quarter of this year, the rapid virus spread hit the church members in Daegu of South Korea, where the early signs of the crisis appeared with the controversy over the massive visitors from China before the infection of church members.
Mr. Man Hee Lee, founder of the Shincheonji Church, said that members of the church are advised to donate plasma voluntarily. “As Jesus sacrificed himself with his blood for life, we hope that the blood of people can bring positive effects on overcoming the current situation,” said Mr. Lee.
“We had a discussion with the health authorities and tried to establish a plan with details for donation. Some of the recovered members have already donated individually, feeling thankful for the assistance from the government and medical teams. They expressed their will to make contribution to the society,” said an official in the church.
Some local governments in South Korea recently brought lawsuits against the church with allegations that the church did not cooperate with the authorities by not submitting the full list of church facilities and members.
“No evidence has been found that Shincheonji supplied missing or altered lists. And there were only minor differences,” said Kim Kang-lip, vice-minister of Health. Academic researches on Shincheonji and COVID-19 stated that the church “provided the list of its South Korean members six days after it was requested” and “it was initially unclear whether shut down facilities and properties should be included” when the government asked for the lists of real estate.
(Shincheonji and Coronavirus in South Korea: Sorting Fact from Fiction - A White Paper https://www.eupoliticalreport.eu/covid-19-and-the-shincheonji-church-in-south-korea-a-white-paper-reveals-the-truth/)
A Shincheonji media coordinator said the church will cooperate fully with investigations from government agencies.
South Korea reported 12,535 confirmed cases and 281 deaths from COVID-19.
Press Release of the HWPL
Peace Education for Future Generations: Workshop for Educators in Cotabato City
Representatives from the government and educators in Cotabato City from 55 public and private schools gathered at a workshop from January 17 to 18 targeting introduction and expansion of peace education for students.
The workshop was hosted by HWPL, an international non-government organization registered as the consultative status in the UN ECOSOC and affiliated as a partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) of the Philippines.
85 educators from 55 public and private schools in Cotabato City at the workshop developed teaching guides appropriate for each educational level, based on the curriculum drafted by HWPL to provide peace education worldwide and the collaboration of participant experts in the field of education including CHED and the DepEd Schools Division Office Cotabato City.
“We can achieve peace, first in our home, inside our classroom, in school, in our division, in our communities. That's why we are here because we want to promote peace through education,” said Dr. Concepcion Ferrer-Balawag, Cotabato City Schools Division Superintendent.
As for the need for a workshop for educators with international cooperation, Agney C. Taruc, the Regional Education Program Supervisor of Region XII, pointed out the opportunity for “joining the different cultures, different voices and different kind of people that are working to achieve peace in this world” and “bringing people together to work and to move more to achieve peace in Mindanao especially in Cotabato City.”
Teachers at this workshop wrote their lesson plans based on the DepEd guidelines and 12 HWPL Peace Education Lessons implanting such values as diversity, harmony, coexistence, respect and understanding. As HWPL’s global project of “spreading a culture of peace”, the academic sources based on pilot training programs have been applied to 214 educational institutions in 36 countries.
“All students should be taught peace from the textbooks they learn every day, and the teachings of war must be changed and discontinued. How can we achieve peace? Peace begins by teaching students about peace,” said Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL at a press conference, Manila, back in 2018.
Prior to this, a pilot testing was held last November 2019 in 7 participating schools. Since 2016, dozens of schools including the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College established partnership with HWPL for peace education targeted to youth. In 2018, HWPL and CHED signed an MOA to integrate peace education in the curriculums of universities and colleges.
HWPL is an international organization headquartered in Seoul, Republic of Korea - committed to advancing peace through DPCW (Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War), associated with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). After proclaiming the Declaration of World Peace in 2013, HWPL expanded its peace movement in 70 countries. A few years later, HWPL has reached 127 countries.