Some 155 youth groups with 1 million members from 62 countries around the world have petitioned the Secretary-General of the United Nations ,Antonio 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) expressing concerns about human rights violations and religious oppression in South Korea.
In a joint letter, the youth groups requested 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 and Light (HWPL).
The representative of this letter ,the director and founder of FREE WATCH AFGHANISTAN, Mobeenullah Almaq,said that he agreed with the UN’s concern for the prosecution 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 the Shincheonji Church andHWPL in South Korea. “Prosecuting Shincheonji Church and HWPL should be immediately stopped so that 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 concerns of UN Secretary-General regarding “disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, and 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 the 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 Schincheonji 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 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 subjected to rigorous tax investigations. Those in leadership positions within the organizations have also 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 recovery for tomorrow”.