International Scholars Raise Concerns over “an Attempt to Destroy a New Religious Movement” in South KoreaMonday, 27 July 2020 11:31
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
NGOs in the UN and Religious Leaders Demand Correction on Repression and Violation of Human Rights against ReligionWednesday, 15 July 2020 10:50
NGOs in association with the United Nations and religious communities in the globe are raising their voices on the need to correct inappropriate persecution and human rights violation against a religious group in South Korea named Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
11 NGOs including European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP-LC) submitted a report for “annual report for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights” to the UN Secretary General at the 44th session in the UN Assembly Human Rights Council. The report is titled “scapegoating members of Shincheonji for COVID-19 in the Republic of Korea.”
By referring to the report from United States of America Commission of International Religious Freedom, the report to the UN said, “Shincheonji was suffering harassment from the South Korean government and society. Although some government measures appeared to be driven by legitimate public health concerns, others appeared to exaggerate the church’s role in the outbreak.”
“The government of Seoul locked down Shincheonji churches in the capital, and some mainline Protestant groups have accused the church of deliberately spreading the disease,” it continued.
The report stated, “The virus cannot be an excuse to violate human rights and religious liberty of hundreds of thousands of believers. Intolerance, violence, and discrimination against Shincheonji should be put to an end.”
Religious communities initiated to issue statements to advocate improvements in the unequal treatment against Shincheonji.
"The news of Chairman Lee and Shincheonji are being singled out and blamed for COVID-19 spread and sued is deeply concerning to all faith leaders who valued freedom of religion and the protection of human rights. This adverse action shall have chilling repercussions through the religious world," said Mr. Sheikh Musa Drammeh, Chairman of Islamic Cultural Center of North America.
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.”
Recently, Chairman Lee of Shincheonji Church of Jesus encouraged the members who recovered from the COVID-19 to voluntarily join in donation of plasma. Around 4,000 recovered members said they are willing to donate plasma for research on a new treatment.
He said that there has been political motives in persecution of Shincheonji Church of Jesus and HWPL (a peace NGO) by “using us (Shincheonji), the victims of COVID-19, as their scapegoat in order to hide their own faults.” He added, “Persecuting peace organizations, religious organizations, and violating human rights must be stopped in Korea.”
Press Coordinator of Georgia
Department of Public Relations (International)
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 CureMonday, 29 June 2020 12:38
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
Collaboration for Peace Development:
Building a Peace Community through the DPCW
In today’s era with the need for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula and international cooperation for world peace, a summit under the theme of “Collaboration for Peace Development” will be held in South Korea from the 17th to the 19th of September to discuss the role each sector of society plays in the achievement of peace.
Around 1,000 experts in various fields from around the world with a passionate heart for peace will be gathered in South Korea and participate in the 4th Annual Commemoration of the September 18th World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Summit hosted by HWPL.
During the 3 days of the 4th Annual Commemoration of the WARP Summit 12 formal meetings and 3 informal meetings, for a total of 15 conferences, along with a press conference will be held. The main agenda of these meetings will be the introduction of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) to the United Nations (UN) as a binding resolution and the promotion of international cooperation among individuals from all levels and sectors of society for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula through the DPCW. In addition, plans will be discussed and established regarding how to draw support from current heads of state for the introduction of the DPCW as a UN resolution.
In order to achieve these objectives, political leaders, religious leaders, legal experts, education professionals, heads of international organizations, leaders of youth and women’s organizations and civil society actors from over 100 countries around the world will attend the meetings and discuss peace projects based on the DPCW as well as concrete methods to implement them.
HWPL’s Answer for the Realization of Peace: Law for Peace, Alliance of Religions, Peace Education
Political leaders, including former and current heads of state, ministers, national assembly speakers and Supreme Court justices, together with HWPL are currently making practical efforts towards the enactment of an international law for peace through the introduction of the DPCW to the UN. At this year’s international law session, high-ranking officials and the HWPL international law advisory committee will create concrete measures to advance the process of the realization of the implementation of an international law for peace.
Last year the world’s top religious leaders held a meeting to discuss the elimination of pain and suffering caused by religious conflict and the creation of peace between religions. There will be 13 members in attendance for the Alliance of Religions for Peace Meeting and plans are made to come together and find a trustworthy scripture that will lead to the alliance of religions. In addition, around 200 religious leaders from both Korea and abroad will share their experiences of participating in the WARP Office meetings and the effectiveness of their current strategies and efforts, as well as make a pledge to unite their religions together under the truth.
HWPL’s peace education is already receiving more attention and support as one of the essential pillars of achieving peace. In light of this, leaders in the ministries of education and other education professionals from many countries around the world will gather at the Peace Education conference to share about the best practices and methods of implementing peace education into current curriculums. Also, they will make plans to take steps to further develop the establishment of HWPL peace education within schools based on the 12 HWPL textbooks that have recently been completed.
Spreading the News of Peace: Media, Youth, Women
There are some individuals who are always at the forefront in spreading the news of HWPL around the world so that more people can participate in the peace projects and other activities of HWPL. They are the world’s journalists. They are currently working to strengthen cooperation among all journalists of the world so that the news of peace can be spread even more effectively in terms of both superior quality and quantity. During the World Peace Press Network Conference, journalists from each country will cooperate and join the Peace Initiative in order to seek a solution for peace that will be able to overcome the conflicts and turmoil in their respective countries.
Youth and Women’s organizations have become one with the International Youth Peace Group (IPYG) and the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) in order to advocate for the DPCW to become a legally binding international instrument through the Legislate Peace Campaign. During this year’s meeting the youth and women will share the results and successes of the peace activities held throughout the previous year as well as discuss ways to further develop and sustain these activities in a more effective manner.
As peace based on the principles of the DPCW is being witnessed in various cities around the world, more and more people are joining in the peace projects of HWPL. In particular, two countries in Africa, Swaziland and Seychelles, have made a national declaration of their support for the DPCW and now advocate for its introduction as a resolution at the UN. The number of countries supporting the DPCW is expected to expand significantly following the 4th Annual Commemoration of the WARP Summit.
The ultimate goal of HWPL and the WARP Summit is to establish sustainable peace in the world and leave it as a legacy for future generations. The 4th Annual Commemoration of the WARP Summit is a meaningful time when people from all around the world, regardless of nationality, status and religion, can come together and form a peace network guided by the core principles of the DPCW in order to further develop action plans for peace and establish peace in their respective locations.
3,500 Citizens in South Korea Advocated the International Law for Peace HWPL’s “Legislate Peace Campaign” in Seoul Was Held in Collaboration with Local CommunitiesMonday, 23 October 2017 11:20
A peace campaign seeking both local development and global peacebuilding along with the participation of 3,500 citizens and members of an international NGO was held in Seoul, South Korea.
On October 21st, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international NGO under the UN ECOSOC and DPI, held the “HWPL National Marathon Festival” as a part of its “Legislate Peace Campaign” to advocate for the establishment of an international law for peace. Co-hosted by the Korea Sport For All Federation, a local NGO under the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the event served as a venue for local citizens to participate in a marathon and willingly provide voluntary donations for their local communities.
As for individual contributions to peacebuilding, Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL said, “The work of peace is not given to a single individual or company, but rather to everyone around the globe. HWPL, as a peace organization under both the UN DPI and ECOSOC, is seeking to build cooperation with the UN, with a focus on achieving cessation of war and global peace in a way where everyone in our globe can participate in this work of peace with the same heart for peace.”
The participants also wrote their signatures of support for the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW), which was drafted by HWPL with 10 articles and 38 clauses to advocate for international cooperation for peacebuilding through peaceful settlement of disputes, respect of international law in conflict prevention, and spreading a culture of peace. The Legislate Peace Campaign, in collaboration with international and local communities around the world, has received over 700,000 signatures of support for the DPCW to be introduced in international organizations and national governments worldwide.
In the participant’s interview, Jae Hee Kim, a university student said “As each signature from citizens like us is collected, we know the DPCW will be realized eventually. I am participating in this peace campaign with my own hands. I believe that this is a shortcut for the world to encounter peace, and it will go beyond not only myself but also my family and even further to my country.”
The participation of citizens in this event will also greatly contribute to furthered community development due to their voluntary donations in the form of crowd funding. Approximately $7,500 (KRW 8,400,000) was donated by the HWPL members and this will now be set up as a local development fund.