SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- On 29 November, with the support and attendance from members of the Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion (HAC), the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) from Italy and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) from Belgium hosted a seminar on human rights entitled "Intolerance and Discrimination Against New Religious Movements: An International Problem."
This seminar, held in Seoul, South Korea, was devoted to protect the rights of religious minorities targeted by the majority groups, particularly in the context of anti-human rights situations like the forced conversion that occurred in Korea.
Forced conversion, also known as "Deprogramming," is a social issue that causes human rights violations by kidnapping and detaining the members of religious groups labeled as "cults" by their opponents in order to compel them to abandon their faith.
More than 80 participants including legal experts, journalists, and civil society representatives reviewed the current situation of forced conversion and discussed solutions to defend the freedom of faith and human rights that have become the norm of the international community.
"Korean deprogrammers are specialized pastors from the mainline churches, most of them Presbyterian," said Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist and Managing Director of CESNUR, stressing that forced conversion is conducted on a mainstream level.
"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," he criticized.
Regarding the strategy to solve it, Willy Fautré, Founder and Director of HRWF gave several suggestions; pointing at the responsibility of the leadership of the Presbyterian Church which tolerates, endorses, and even encourages the practice; developing advocacy at the UN and in organizations defending freedom of religion; prosecuting those who encourage people to do acts of abduction and confinement.
On July 24th, an open letter, signed by HRWF and 14 other international NGOs, was sent to the South Korean President Moon Jae In that read, "South Korea may well be the last democratic country in the world where deprogramming is still tolerated" and asked the President to "investigate in-depth accusations of forcible deprogramming, put a stop to this obnoxious practice, and hold those responsible fully accountable."
South Korea was also elected to serve the 5th term on the UN Human Rights Council, to which the nation declared "to participate in the international efforts to respond to human rights crises around the world." Participants urged the Korean government to respond to the issue of forced conversion which is still threatening the people's human rights.
Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs
SOURCE Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs