Concerns raised over persecution of religious group in South Korea

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.

Eleven 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.

Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, president of World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge, in India  mentioned about unfair discrimination receiving as a religious person. He said  “A group of Muslims here has also been charged for spreading the virus. The head of the group also asked their members to donate plasma. Those people who want to make authoritarian rule, they always need an imaginary enemy, they create an enemy to mobilize the public, they have the support of the media. Thus, the world community should stand up to make people aware of this discrimination.”

“The amount of blood will be about $83 billion worth and will solve the problem of the current lack of blood donations for research. I implore the Government of South Korea and other relevant authorities to immediately drop all charges and lawsuits and rather support the efforts of the Shincheonji Church in encouraging other recoverees to donate their plasma.” said Swami of Arya Samaj South Africa.

“I find it appalling that SCJ church members had to go through such an ordeal. In all humility, one’s religious affiliations should not determine how others treat that person. Therefore, I find that the sort of coercion, bullying, and afflictions faced by the SCJ community is not justified in the least. It is in stark contradiction with the International standards on freedom of religion.” said the Palm Tree Academy teacher Keerti.

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.”