Human Rights NGOs accuse South Korea of oppressing Minor Religion for COVID-19
387 international leaders, including human rights authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and religious communities, are calling on South Korea to stop the suppression of a minor religious group named Shincheonji Church of Jesus for COVID-19.
After the outbreak, a district court is investigating the suspicion of intentional spread of the COVID-19 arresting six church authorities, including President Lee Man-hee of Shincheonji Church. The Seoul City government canceled a permit for a foundation of the HWPL, an international peace organisation, which Mr. Lee established.
In the United Kingdom, the Chairman of International Human Rights Committee, Iftikhar Ayaz, said: “The brutal persecution of the members of the Shincheonji Church in Korea, and the inhumane denial of unregistering their corporation, is a horrible negligence by the state of responsibility which must treat all citizens equally without any discrimination whatsoever.
He added: “The government must honour in practice the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which emphasises the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.”
Franklin Hoet Linares from Venezuela, former President and Honorary Life President of the World Jurist Association, stated: “If the comments that are being broadly spread are true, I would not hesitate to describe it as national and human shame, in addition to turning such nefarious attacks into discrimination against the freedom of religion. We do not understand why, in a country where freedom of religion is enshrined, the government can allow the Korean Constitution to be violated, whereas it clearly states in Article 20, Clauses 1 and 2 ‘All citizens will enjoy freedom of religion’ and ‘religion and state will be separated.’
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 a competitor in the religious market.
Last month, 11 NGOs, including the 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.”
The report stated: “The virus cannot be an excuse to violate [the] human rights and religious liberty of hundreds of thousands of believers. Intolerance, violence, and discrimination against Shincheonji should be put to an end.”
Up to date, 512 members of the Shinchonji Daegu Church have donated their blood plasma for the development a new treatment for the COVID-19. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to produce corona-related drugs with plasma donated by members of the Shinchonji Daegu Church and conduct clinical tests from this September.
The church official said: “The members [who] recovered from COVID-19 donate their blood plasma as reward for treatment offered by government. We want to support the development of a vaccine.”