International Webinar by Asian and African Media Diagnosed COVID-19 and Social Change with the Focus of Peacebuilding
On February 13, 2021, an international webinar on “Voice of Peace: Media Perspective on COVID-19 and Social Change” was held to discuss the contents of national responses to political, economic, and social aspects under the heavy influence of the pandemic.
This event was co-hosted by Risingbd of Bangladesh, The DAWN of South Sudan, PTV World of Pakistan, and a UN-affiliated NGO named Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) headquartered in South Korea.
Dr. Javed Ali Kalholo, Senior Producer of PTV World, stated that the globe witnessed disastrous diseases in the new century from swine flu to Eblola before COVID-19. He advocated international cooperation to “fight the existing menace of virus collectively and do share a cognitive approach towards the post-pandemic world.”
Mr. Nabeel Tirmazi, Broadcasting Consultant & Programme Manager of Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD), mentioned that media responsibility in democratic states has grown to “dispel wrong notions, apprehensions and misinformation”, adding to the functions of informing and educating. To cope with the COVID-19 crisis, he suggested capacity building for healthy journalism from international media practitioners with the case of combating disinformation regarding the pandemic with international organizations including WHO and UNESCO.
Mr. Ibnul Qayum Sony, Senior Sub Editor of Risingbd, Actor and Independent Film Director explained that the current phenomena of COVID-19 have mixed results. In the case of Bangladesh, he said that loss of lives and economic downturn from the lockdown coexist with the significant decrease in the level of pollution in rivers of the country resulting in biodiversity.
“South Sudan is the newest country on earth, having gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but a political crisis two years later has left it bleeding,” said Mr. Okech Francis, Deputy Editor in Chief of The Dawn Newspaper. To respond to poor infrastructure, health services, and economic performance in the country and region, he highlighted that knowledge and skills for sustainable future of peace and security need to be provided, rather than handouts.
Mr. Supalak Ganjanakhundee, Bangkok-based Southeast Asia Analyst, Thailand, says that the country is “still struggling to contain the spread of the deadly disease” and the recent student democratic protest, which also “extended to neighbor Myanmar after the military in that country staged a coup in the pre-dawn of 1 February.” He added that the demands from protest are to be taken seriously “to bring genuine democracy, stability and peace to the country.”
Dr. Ian Seo, General Director of HWPL, pointed out that the recent dysfunctional election system in Thailand and South Korea and public dissatisfaction with the current leadership during the pandemic brought uncertainty of democratic system of the two countries. He suggested that giving insights and inspiration to youth is media responsibility and dedication for the future with peaceful societies.
Press-release of the HWPL
Webinar to Discuss the Implementation of International Law for Peace “Marching on Toward Sustainable Peace in a Pandemic Era”
On March 14, HWPL’s 5th Annual Commemoration of the DPCW was held as a live webinar, joined by over 1,200 people in 132 countries from all sectors of the society including government, international organizations, heads of women and youth groups, religious leaders, press, and members of civic society.
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), organized this year’s commemorative event, “Marching on Toward Sustainable Peace in a Pandemic Era”, as a platform to share direction for the future and case studies of different sectors cooperating across the world as peace messengers, responding to the pandemic and bringing peace in this new socially distanced world.
The host organization, HWPL, is a peace NGO in Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC and associated with UN DGC. For the purpose of ceasing all wars and creating a peaceful world as a legacy for future generations, HWPL has been carrying out 3 main peace initiatives - international law for peace, interfaith dialogue meeting, and peace education.
The Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) includes principles of peacebuilding such as the prohibition of the use of force, development of friendly relations, and peaceful dispute settlement. It emphasizes international cooperation based on interfaith dialogue and civic participation to create a culture of peace. Since its proclamation on March 14th, 2016, the DPCW-based peacebuilding model went on to receive government recognition and support for inter-religious dialogue, peace education, youth and women’s peace activities.
As a member of the International Law Peace Committee (ILPC) who drafted the DPCW, Professor Ciaran Burke explained the background of how the DPCW was founded on “the conviction that judicial and other dispute resolution measure can replace the role of war with the rule of law.”
He also stressed the kernel of the DPCW by borrowing words from Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL, is that “the envisioned effect of the DPCW is cumulative to scale up the moral and political responsibility of world leaders by crystallizing the legal obligations of their government thereby bridging the gap between law and politics.”
Efforts to institutionalize peace based on the DPCW are underway. Countries in Southeast Asia and Central America have begun to rebuild their national legal infrastructure based on the DPCW, and the local governments are officially declaring their support for the DPCW in order to implement peace principles. In South Asia, the DPCW was introduced into the university curriculum as an academic research course on the role of law for a peaceful society.
According to UNESCO, over 190 countries closed down educational facilities, and over 1.6 billion students lost their opportunity for sustainable education. As a part of the online campaign, “Teaching goes on”, HWPL’s peace education is now taught at 214 locations in 34 countries, providing online peace education for over 5,000 students 224 times in 15 countries.
Stressing the importance of strengthening partnership for sustainable education, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Mali to UNESCO, S.E Monsieur Oumar KEITA, said, “We must unite in a spirit of cooperation to ensure peace at the national and international levels. We must consider the need for a comprehensive legal approach that will lead citizens in their everyday lives, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or religion. The preamble to DPCW with 10 articles and 38 clauses speaks of that very well.”
Regarding the importance of religion in spreading hope and peace during the pandemic crisis, Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, President of the World Organisation of Religion & Knowledge, said, “Whenever humanity faces a difficult time era, there has been a religion which gives them hope and courage to overcome crises. Religion has its power to narrow down differences among us and unite us to be strong enough to break through obstacles. Such efforts will fertilize the culture of peace when the current generation is in desperate need for hope.”
Since it began in 2014, HWPL’s interfaith dialogue meeting also known as the WARP Office meeting is now expanded to 129 countries, seeing an increase in online meetings because of the pandemic. The religious communities in the WARP Office meeting also have held several pan-religious prayer meetings, meditation, and peace camps to reach out to people of the world who are facing hardship due to the pandemic.
International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), an affiliate of HWPL, is building a peace network of youth around the world with the Youth Empowerment Peace Workshop (YEPW), which was inspired by the DPCW’s peace realization process, to achieve youth empowerment proposed in the UN SDGs and Youth 2030.
Mr. Reuben Sapetulu, Deputy Secretary Agent for the United Nations Youth Association of Zambia (YUNA Zambia), said, “I participated in the delivery of 3,000 peace letters to the minister of justice in Zambia for the DPCW proposal. My commitments are simply because I agree that the DPCW is an effective way to bring a cessation of war and world peace. The YEPW was also inspired by the DPCW’s peace realization process. Spreading peace culture based on the DPCW is certainly the way to achieve peace. World leaders, please pay attention and support what the DPCW is stating about the peace realization process.”
Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL urged cooperation and unity for achieving peace by saying “No property or anything can become a legacy in the future. We must create a world of freedom, peace, and love without war, and make it an eternal legacy for our descendants. This is what we need to do in this era. Although the process of submitting the DPCW to the UN was paused for a while due to the corona pandemic, as much as this desire to achieve peace, there is no change.”
Department of Public Relations (International)
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and the Restoration of Light
A NUMBER OF BILATERAL DOCUMENT WERE SIGNED WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “TURKMENISTAN AND THE UNITED NATIONS: COOPERATION FOR PEACE AND TRUST”
Today, on March 2, the International Conference “Turkmenistan and the United Nations: Cooperation for Peace and Trust” on the occasion of
the 29th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s UN membership, has started in the MFA of Turkmenistan.
Within the framework of the event online ceremony of signing the bilateral documents was held. In particular, the following documents were signed: Agreement between the Government of Turkmenistan and the United Nations Population Fund on Co-Financing, as well as Work Plan between the Ministry of Sport and Youth Policy of Turkmenistan and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) within the framework of the project “Strengthening mechanisms of youth participation in the implementation of the national youth policy and advancement of gender equality” for 2021.
Then Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov handed over to the Acting UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan Christine Weigand the Note verbale of the MFA of Turkmenistan officially announcing on behalf of the Government of Turkmenistan about the Resolution of the President of Turkmenistan on the approval of the procedure for visa-free entry to Turkmenistan of foreign citizens with UN passports.
As is known, that Resolution had been signed by the President of Turkmenistan on the 28th of February 2021, according to which, starting from March 2 this year, foreign citizens holding UN passports are allowed to come to Turkmenistan, stay in the country, leave it, and cross the territory of Turkmenistan in transit without visa.
Besides that, the document prescribed those foreign citizens – officers of the UN or its specialized structures, accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, as well as their family members, are exempted from obtaining visa during the period of work in Turkmenistan.
The adoption of this Resolution is in line with the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
International Scholars Raise Concerns over “an Attempt to Destroy a New Religious Movement” in South Korea
On July 20, a webinar on a new religious movement in South Korea and its political, religious, and social dimensions with the recent COVID-19 crisis invited international scholars and experts in the field of religion, international law, and human rights.
Titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea”, the webinar addressed the recent issues of aggressive attack from politically powerful conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches in the country on a newly-established, fast-growing Christian denomination named 'Shincheonji (New Heaven and New Earth) Church of Jesus' founded in 1984.
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
IDIFA founder: "Our main purpose as a movement is to be beside our government"IDIFA (I Do It For Azerbaijan) a peaceful movement, whose headquarters is in Warsaw, has been established.According to News Day Georgia /newsday.ge/ the main purpose of the movement is to defend national interest of Azerbaijan in various countries of the World and advocate Karabakh realities.Emin Rustamov, one of the founders of IDIFA, chairman of Azerbaijan Italian Youth Association talked about the main purposes of the movement. According to him, in order to organize activities of the movement in a more productive way www.idifa.net website is open to users from today on.Emin Rustamov also added: "We approve and support important decisions made by our government in international level, as well as its considerable activities in the sphere of protecting our governmental interests. Our main target as a movement is to be alongside with our government in this mainstream, represent Azerbaijan in international arena decently, and support this policy searching for new resources."Emin Rustamov also talked about action plans intended for upcoming year of the movement: "The main objective of the movement for the upcoming year is to contribute to our government as Azerbaijan youth by representing Azerbaijan at a high level in international organizations in various countries throughout the world. Alongside with all these, our purpose is to cooperate with popular foreign members of the media and provide the spread of information widely, publish articles in direction of propagating Azerbaijan. Briefly, we decided on our main objective as to act beneficially taking into consideration the priorities of foreign policy of our government. One of our mainstream aims is to achieve the problem of legal value to Nagorno Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia and emphasis Karabakh truth to the world community."
China International Education College to open in Tbilisi
China International Education College is founded by China International Education Group. Various educational institutions in China, Europe and Asia are successfully operating under the umbrella of this group.
Our institute is dedicated to teaching Chinese, organizing multifaceted cultural and cognitive events that will help Georgian society to better understand Chinese culture, as well as deepen multilateral relations and cooperation between China and Georgia.
Our Institute is the first fully independent private institute of its kind in Georgia. It is worth noticing that the China International Education group is the one of the important investors in Georgia in the field of education, currently investing approximately 3 million GEL, and plans to invest in vocational education in the future.
On January 11, 2020, at 15:00, at the headquarters of the China International Education College, Andrew and Meliton Balanchivadze Ave. # 43, the official opening ceremony of the China International Education College will be held.
Invited guests are Ambassador of China to Georgia - Ms. Lee Ian, guests from Ministry of Education, state and public figures, also specially for this day, for the first time senior statesmen will come from China : Mr. Wu Ni - Director of the Institute for Education Development and Reforms of the Chinese Academy of Education, Mr. Xu Zhengzhong - Director of the Institute for Education Development and Reforms and other guests.
The following people will give speeches at the ceremony : Mr. Kang Zheng – founder of the institute, Ms. Eli Elisashvili – Director, Mr. Wu Ni and Mr. Xu Zhengzhong.
This event will also include a presentation of the first Chinese-Georgian dictionary, translated by the director of the Institute - Eli Elisashvili, published in China, and second edition will be performed in Georgia.