Thousands rally to promote religious freedom ahead of World Interfaith Harmony Week

Thousands rally against the Christian Council of Korea (Image courtesy of HAC)

In light of the upcoming United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religions and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) is working to increase its activity to mediate various infringements committed by religious institutions.

Internationally the same could be seen on 27 January in Seoul, South Korea. Civil society organisations urged the government to intervene and close down religious institutions abusing individuals’ rights to practice their religion freely.

More than 30,000 people, 100 civil society organisations and religious groups came together at Gwanghwamun Square in a rally co-ordinated by the Global Citizens’ Human Rights Coalition to Call for the Shutdown of the Christian Council of Korea (the Coalition).

The Coalition comprises of 100 organisations in South-Korea including the International Women’s Peace Human Rights Commission, the Christian Association for Anti-Corruption National Movement, and the World Buddhist Summit, to name a few.

Together with citizens they called for the shutdown of the Christian Council of Korea (CCK). The CCK has been accused of corruption, anti-nation, anti-society, and anti-religious actions. As well as coercive conversion programmes which violate religious freedom.

They hoped to expose the actions of the CCK to President Jae-in Moon through the rally. Parallels were drawn between the actions of the CCK and Korea’s former oppressor, Japan, who were actively involved in politics during the military rule of Korea when they showed support for the amendment of the Korean Constitution.

The main concern was the CCK’s continued attempts to protect its position of dominance, producing fake news in response to the growth of churches not registered to the CCK and accusing them of being alleged cult organisations. These and other actions bring about division and confusion within religious circles.

Two women have lost their lives as a result of the coercive conversion programs. Members of beliefs that are not part of mainstream religions are the target of these programs. Representatives of the Coalition called for active intervention on the part of the government.

A spokesperson for the Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion (HAC) in South Africa, Ms Siyabuka Tunyiswa, earlier said,

“The CCK is a source of shame for their country and religion in the global society. The Korean government should act swiftly and hold the CCK accountable for their criminal activity – it should be shut down. They should be stopped from their continuous infringement of people’s universal right to freedom of religion and life.”