The Former President of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi has waded into the controversies surrounding the burgeoning issues of human rights abuses being perpetrated against the Shincheonji church and its leader, Lee Man-hee by the South Korean Government in this advent of Covid-19, described it as ‘unfortunate and unique barefaced violation of rights of freedom of worship’.
Speaking at a 2-day virtual summit to deliberate and proffer solutions to the escalating issues of human rights abuses around the world with emphasis on the South Korean situation, the former UN boss lamentably said:
“The Shincheonji Covid-19 saga is more of state and conscious barefaced violation of rights of freedom of worship of unique occurrence which ought to be widely condemned in no uncertain terms”.
“He further revealed: “this is just a clear sense of selective victimization in which the Shincheonji church appears to have only come under the heavy sledge hammer of the state”.
The high-level summit convene an avalanche of high-profile speakers including audience made up of human rights activists, advocates and journalists across the world particularly Africa, Europe, America and Asia.
The deadly coronavirus pandemic has brought untold hardships to the world at an alarming rate.
Despite the debilitating crises, there has been reports of various attacks ranging from stigmatization, discrimination, persecution and violence among others meted out to some persons and minority groups by their majority counterparts including some states across the world.
The unfortunate move is said to be obstructing efforts in the fight against the pandemic. The South Korea situation has been called to question by many when over 5,500 cases of human rights violations including coercive conversion, (of whom many are women), have been reported since the outbreak hit the country in February 2020.
In addition, an 89-year-old man who is the leader of Shincheonji church (minority religious group) has come under intense persecution and unlawful detention for allegedly withholding information from government officials to help combat coronavirus. His peace organization of a global repute (HWPL) is also on the verge of having its legal entity revoked for ostensibly being a missionary organization in disguise.
In spite of wide condemnation of the issues, following calls from human rights advocates, activists, journalists, international and regional organizations, Civil Society Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations alike globally to the South Korean Government to back down and rescind on the matter to allow peace prevail, yet nothing concrete is done.
But touching on the South Korean situation, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi observed “the tendency to address theological criticism or disagreement with the founding ethos of the Shincheonji movement with discrimination or violation for human rights says it”.
While condemning the act flatly, he underscored the need for theological criticism not be confused with discrimination or violation of human rights.
For his part, the Executive Director of Accra Human Rights Forum International (AHRFI), Austin Kwabena Brako noted with grace concern the atrocities being committed against the Shincheonji church leader and members are unlawful which amounts to the violation of their rights as humans as well as freedom of worship.
He appealed to all and sundry to unite with one voice to relentlessly condemn the acts and bring pressure to bear on the South Korean authorities to take immediate action to free Mr Lee Man-hee from detention including setting his church and peace organization from persecution.
In his remark, the Executive Director of Human Rights Ghana (HRRG), Joseph Kobla Wemakor averred that it’s not time to apportion blame but rather time to unite and combine actions with passion to call the South Korean Government, authorities including their cronies of Shincheonji oppressors to order.
“Let’s rise up with one strong voice and speak up against the culture of oppression and tyranny being perpetrated by the South Korean Government against the good people of Shincheonji church and its leader Mr Lee and his Peace Organization, the Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) because ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.
The 2-day summit came to a successful end, witnessed diverse views expressed by an array of dignified audience who grace the occasion on how to effectively tackle the rising issues of human rights abuses and ensure peace and religious freedom is restored in South Korea.
Joseph Kobla Wemakor is a multiple award-winning freelance journalist, a blogger and ardent online news editor. He also doubles as a human rights activist, a youth leader, a climate change proponent and a sustainable development goals advocate in Ghana.
He has over a decade of experience in journalism and strongly believes in using his platform to bring about change and give a voice to Ghanaian minorities.
Joseph is also the Head, Media and Communication at the PLO Lumumba Foundation, Ghana Chapter as well as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Greater Accra Regional Youth Network (GARYN).
In line with his passion as a human rights activist, Joseph set up the Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG). This is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) which seeks to promote, defend and bring an end to human rights abuse against women, girls, children and persons living with disability including the marginalized in the society both within and out of Ghana. He also leads HRRG in the capacity of Executive Director and currently working assiduously to impart knowledge on human rights to the Ghanaian populace.