Wednesday, December 11, 2019

[Peace News] Intolerance and Discrimination Against New Religious Movements Seminar in Seoul

[Peace News]

[Peace News] Intolerance and Discrimination Against New Religious Movements Seminar in Seoul

More than 80 people including legal experts, journalists, scholars and representatives from civil society  participated in a seminar on human rights under the title "Intolerance and Discrimination Against New Religious Movements: An International Problem" on 29th November in Seoul, Korea, hosted by Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) from Italy and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) from Belgium.

The coercive conversion program (forced conversion), which is also known as "Deprogramming", has become a social and global epidemic that violates human rights through kidnap, violence, detainment and threats in order to make people renounce their religious beliefs.

Massimo Introvigne, Managing Director of CESNUR and a prominent Italian sociologist, criticized the human rights situation in Korea, saying:

"Korean deprogrammers are specialized pastors from the mainland churches, most of them Presbyterian. The protests that commemorate the victims from forced conversion were mentioned in the 2019 U.S. State Department Report on Religious Freedom, including violations of religious freedom in the year 2018. However, there were new cases of deprogramming even after their death."

Willy Fautré, Founder and Director of HRWF suggested two countermeasures as he pointed out the problem in the Presbyterian Church in Korea that tolerates, endorses and even encourages coercive conversion programs (Deprogramming):

1. Developing advocacy at the UN and within organizations to defend the freedom of one's religion or belief

2. Prosecuting those who encourage others to commit acts of abduction or confinement

Given that South Korea is now the only democratic country in the world where the coercive conversion program is still being carried out, it is imperative that more seminars and forums raising human rights issues on freedom of religion and belief are held.


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