Thursday, November 29, 2018

[IWPG] Commemorative Ceremony for Ms. Ji-In Gu (Victim of Coercive Conversion)


[IWPG] Commemorative Ceremony for Ms. Ji-In Gu (Victim of Coercive Conversion)

Greetings, Family of Peace :)

Today I am bringing you some brief news about basic human rights, specifically regarding religious freedom :)

On 27th November 2017, IWPG (International Women’s Peace Group) and World Women's Peace and Human Rights Committee co-hosted a commemorative ceremony for Ms. Ji-In Gu - a victim of coercive conversion - simultaneously throughout many cities in Korea.

Article by reporter Jongsik Hwang, Gukje news, Korea

Ms. Ji-In Gu was kidnapped by her parents with the intention of converting her in January 2018. Her parents imprisoned her at a Catholic monastery in South Jeonra province and took her to a coercive conversion program run by pastors of Christian Cult Counselling of Korea. However, Ms. Gu was suffocated to death while she was struggling to escape from her family.

Well, the point is that this case is not the first death resulting from coercive conversion. The coercive conversion program is a compulsory program of indoctrination that is aimed to convert someone's religion to another religion. This is mainly carried out by protestant pastors of the Christian Council of Korea (CCK) against new or smaller denominations in Korea. Pastors aggravate parents’ anxiety by telling them their child has fallen into a cult, and ask them to 'donate' (pay money) if they want to save their child from the cult. In reality, pastors manipulate parents into bringing their child to the coercive conversion program through force as a way to evade legal punishment when the process fails.

According to Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs (HRAVCCP), more than 1000 cases of coercive conversion have been carried out from 2003-2017, causing two deaths, including Ms. Ji-In Gu. Moreover, victims have suffered from imprisonment, threats, indoctrination, kidnap, violence and even enforced hospitalization in psychiatric wards.

Citizens have been continually burning incense and laying out white chrysanthemums for Ms. Ji-In Gu at 40 group memorial altars throughout Korea. Its hosts announced "We want to resolve this victim's deep sorrow - someone who died because of her religion - and also wish to spread the painful news about the continued ignorance of human rights in Korea."

On that day, IWPG and World Women's Peace and Human Rights Committee carried out a signature-collecting campaign for 'Closure of Korean Cult Counselling Office', 'Legal Punishment of Coercive Conversion Pastors' and 'Prohibition of Religious Discrimination', and distributed leaflets for their campaign.

Personally, I have to admit that Korea is still under-developed when it comes to human rights. It is so shameful that people constantly suffer from religious discrimination and coercive conversion. Coercive conversion is a barbaric, anachronistic programme that supresses religious diversity and freedom. It must be put to an end. I hope everyone can urge the government to put an end to this.

Deepest condolences for victims of coercive conversion. R.I.P Ms. Ji-In Gu.


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