News Americas, Washington D.C., Mon. Aug. 17, 2020: 155 youth groups, with one million members from 62 countries around the world, sent a joint letter to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres and UN affiliates, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The joint letter demands the UN act immediately to help stop the religious persecution of Shincheonji Church, a minority Christian denomination headquartered in South Korea and Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a UN Economic and Social Council affiliated organization.
Director and Founder of FREE WATCH AFGHANISTAN, Mobeenullah Aimaq, proposed the joint letter campaign. In a written statement he said he agreed with the UN’s concern for the increased persecution of minorities and vulnerable groups. Additionally, he opposes human rights violations that continue to occur under the pretext of fighting coronavirus. He strongly urged the Korean Government to cease their prosecution of Shincheonji Church and HWPL in South Korea. “Prosecuting Shincheonji Church and HWPL should immediately stop 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, the youth groups reported several acts of oppression by the Korean government and the media against Shincheonji Church and HWPL. 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 the death of two female members’ in suspicious circumstances. Many of these victims are 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 investigation against 89-year-old Chairman Man Hee Lee of Shincheonji Church and HWPL was also highlighted. The charters of these two groups have been revoked by the government and they have been subject to rigorous tax investigations.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 other public officials since it the religion is unpopular.
In the joint letter, they urged that cases of human rights, and religious repression, such as the ones occurring in South Korea, must be put to an end in order to build a “more effective and inclusive solutions for the emergency of today and the recovery for tomorrow.”