2nd Conference of Hope for Universal Human Rights and Religious Freedom

2nd Conference of Hope for the Realization of a Heavenly Unified World

Declaration in Support of Fundamental Human Rights and Human Dignity

Understanding Threats to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

 

Washington, D.C. — The clashes between authoritarian regimes and free societies are endangering people’s religious freedom and human rights everywhere, speakers told the 2nd Conference of Hope for the Realization of a Heavenly Unified World, co-hosted by the Universal Peace Federation, the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) and The Washington Times Foundation.

The 2nd Conference of Hope, held in South Korea on December 17, and live streamed to millions of viewers globally, concluded with a call for people worldwide to sign a Declaration in Support of Fundamental Human Rights and Human Dignity: Overcoming Threats to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion. “We call upon all people throughout the world to affirm this declaration and to uphold the universal freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and to stand firmly against all forms of intolerance, prejudice, slander, and hate toward others,” says the declaration.

“Victory over communism is possible, and it is inevitable for a more humane 21st century,” said Hon. Jan Figel, First Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion, European Union (2016-2019), who explained that he was named for an uncle who was unjustly killed by Stalin’s secret police in occupied Czechoslovakia.

Conference of Hope Organizing Chairman Dr. Yun Young-ho opened the event by asking the audience to remember that human rights “focus on the family, the God-centered family,” as well as the individual.

“Freedom of religion can never be taken for granted. It must always be defended and looked after,” said Hon. Dan Burton, IAPP Co-Chairman and US Congressman (1983-2013). Religious freedom is “the human right to think and act upon what one deeply believes, according to the dictates of his or her moral conscience,” said Bishop Don Meares, Senior Pastor of the Evangel Cathedral in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, US.

“Freedom of religion is freedom of thought and is an essential foundation of democracy, alongside the freedoms of speech and assembly,” said Amb. Suzan Johnson Cook, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the US State Department (2011-2013).

“No nation can exist without religion or human rights,” said Hon. Nevers Mumba, Vice President of Zambia (2003-2004).

Speakers recounted reports of persecution of religious groups—Muslim Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Ahmadis, Bahais, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidis, Rohingyas, Falun Gong, and, more recently, the Family Federation of World Peace and Unification, formerly the Unification Church, in Japan.

Regimes that veer toward totalitarianism see religion “as a dangerous competitor” and seek to silence or control it, said Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, who specializes in foreign policy and civil liberty. He cited a report from Open Doors (www.opendoorsusa.org), an organization that tracks religious persecution worldwide, highlighting the oppression carried out by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Afghanistan’s Taliban, the North Korean regime, the Myanmar military junta, and governments in Eritrea, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Laos.

The Chinese people’s protests against the CCP and its “zero-COVID” policies are the ”most widespread and fervent” the CCP has faced since 1989, said Hon. Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State (2018-2021). The world should support these protesters because even if the CCP relaxes its COVID policies, it “will continue to use its tools of oppression to crush religious freedom,” he said, citing the ongoing suffering of millions of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjang and persecution of 100 million Chinese Christians, both Catholics and Protestants.

China is also policing its people with cell phone tracking devices, facial-recognition technology and electronic digital currency that the state can control, said Amb. Sam Brownback, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom (2018-2021). “If they’re coming after every one of faith in China, and expanding these technologies to countries around the world, we’re going to soon be confronting this in a much larger sphere,” he said, urging nations to stand up to China, politically and ideologically.

China opposes—and fears—Korean unification because it believes a unified Korea would “align with the United States” and “slow down—or even block—China’s long-term 100-year strategy” to be the world’s global superpower, said Dr. Michael Pillsbury, Director of the Center on Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute. The CCP strictly controls both party members and churches on religious matters, even as it pursues a five-year plan to rewrite the Bible, change Jesus’ acts, and remake Christianity to match the CCP’s vision, said Dr. Pillsbury, author of “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower,” the best-selling book about China’s ambitious quest for hegemony.

In Japan, leaders in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) once welcomed the International Federation for Victory Over Communism (IFVOC), founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, as it helped counter “the threats [to Japan] from North Korea and China,” said Hon. Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the US House of Representatives (1995-1999).

Several speakers suggested that the CCP and its allies, such as the Japan Communist Party, are trying to exploit the tragic July 8 assassination of LDP leader former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Mr. Abe’s accused assassin is said to have held “a grudge” against the Family Federation over donations his mother made to the church in the early 2000s. The assassin’s alleged “grudge” has been used by the media and political officials to ignite public and legislative attacks on religious donations in general, and the Unification Church in particular.

Mr. Abe “was the mastermind of Japan’s new, robust security and foreign policy, pushing for changes to the pacifist constitution, creating a defense force that can also be offensive, and forging alliances, like the Quadrilateral [Security] Dialogue with India, Australia, and the United States,” said former BBC Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley, who has been tracking the Abe assassination and aftermath.

But that obvious geopolitical agenda has not been raised in Japan’s media, and instead there has been “a campaign” against the Unification Church, Mr. Hawksley said. In fact, one analysis of 4,238 major Japanese media articles found that “not one gave a positive angle on the Unification Church,” he said.

According to Yoshio Watanabe, Vice President of IFVOC, the Japan Communist Party has a long history of clashing with IFVOC, and recently their chairman declared that this is the “final war” against the Family Federation and IFVOC. “I pledge that the International Federation for Victory Over Communism will put its life on the line to fight until the end to stop this scheme and to defend Japan’s democracy,” Mr. Watanabe said.

This hostility was openly expressed in 2007, when the Japanese Communist Party wrote that it wanted “the Unification Church to be dealt with as a criminal group,” said religious scholar Massimo Introvigne, Founder and Managing Director, Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) based in Italy. “Those who really love religious freedom should stand up and defend it where it is under threat. Today, it is Japan,” he said.

“Throughout the world there is now a growing network of concerned citizens, leaders and institutions who are realizing that Japan’s news media is largely driving the social and political lynching of this global religious community. We call upon righteous people throughout the world to raise your voices to Japan’s national leaders in support of fairness, accuracy and human rights,” said Thomas P. McDevitt, Chairman of The Washington Times and board member of The Washington Times Foundation.

Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South and is currently a member of the National Assembly, called for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Hon. Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria (2010-2015), called on everyone to “rise up to this challenge” of bringing about world peace.

The conference concluded with a reading and endorsement of the Declaration in Support of Fundamental Human Rights and Human Dignity by IAPP chapters representing 5,000 parliamentarians from 193 nations. The Declaration, explained Mr. Burton, “raises awareness of the growing threats to human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of religion, conscience, and thought, and asks all people to stand together to overcome threats to these basic freedoms.”

 

Other international dignitaries who submitted pre-recorded videos or appeared virtually, included: Greyce Elias, Member of Chamber of Deputies, Brazil; Luc-Adolphe Tiao, Prime Minister, Burkina Faso (2011-2014); Luis Miranda, City Councillor, Montreal, Canada; Filomena Gonçalves, Minister of Health, Cape Verde;Issa Mardo Djabir, Member of Parliament, Chad; Ajay Dutt, Member of Delhi Legislative Assembly, India; Bhubaneswar Kalita, Member of Parliament, India; Hamidou Traore, Vice President, National Assembly, Mali; Geeta Chhetri, Member of Constituent Assembly, Nepal; Ek Nath Dhakal, former Minister of Peace and Reconstruction, Nepal; Emilia Alfaro de Franco, Senator and First Lady, Paraguay (2012-2013); Claude Begle, Member of Parliament, Switzerland (2015-2019); Abdullah Makame, Member of East Africa Legislative Assembly, Tanzania; Silas Aogon, Member of Parliament, Uganda; Erinah Rutangya, Member of Parliament, Uganda; Keith Best, Member of Parliament, UK, (1979-1987); and John Doolittle, Member of US Congress (2003-2007).

The Universal Peace Federation (UPF), founded in 2005 by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, is an NGO in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The IAPP is one of UPF’s pillar organizations, with thousands of members in 193 countries. The Washington Times Foundation, founded in 1984 in Washington, D.C., hosts many programs, including a monthly webcast “The Washington Brief,” to gather expert commentary on issues relating to global peace and security.

Conference of Hope programs seek to shore up foundational values—freedom of religion, speech, and assembly—and promote global peace and security, especially on the Korean Peninsula. For further info: www.upf.org and https://conferenceofhope.info.

Related link: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/dec/17/chinese-communists-japanese-allies-seek-exploit-fo/

 

 

2nd Conference of Hope for the Realization of a Heavenly Unified World

Declaration in Support of Fundamental Human Rights and Human Dignity

Understanding Threats to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

 

This declaration raises awareness of the growing threats to human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of religion, conscience, and thought, and asks all people to stand together to overcome threats to these basic freedoms.

The Declaration builds on the foundation of the “Peace Charter” which was affirmed during the Universal Peace Federation’s World Summit 2022, convened in February, and, subsequently, during the Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference convened in August, and which advocated for a world culture of peace, a world of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values. In addition, during the first Conference of Hope, held in November 12, 2022, a Declaration and a Call for Freedom, Justice and Fairness was affirmed and serves also as a foundation for the following declaration:

Understanding that the freedoms of thought, conscience, and religion are fundamental rights that derive necessarily from the recognition of the dignity and value of each human being; and,

Recognizing that violations of these freedoms are growing throughout the world, impacting the lives of billions of religious believers, ordinary citizens and persons who dissent from majority opinions, who are often victims of prejudice, reputation damage, discrimination, persecution, selective prosecution, hate crimes and even violence; and,
Knowing that Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations affirms “human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”; and,

Acknowledging that Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”; and,

Noting that the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in its Article 18 (1), states that: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”; and,

Appreciating that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to identify and take action against violations of freedoms of religion or belief; and,

Knowing that many national constitutions affirm freedoms of thought, conscience and religion as essential to human dignity and human flourishing; and,
Recalling, that despite these protections written into law, human history is tainted by a tragic history of violations of these ideals, evidenced in a shameful record of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Catholicism, hate crimes, media bias, textbook bias, and persecution of minorities; and,

Recognizing that violations of these basic rights and freedoms are often closely linked to xenophobia, ethnocentrism, racism, cultural imperialism and ideological extremism; and,

Observing that violations of basic human rights and freedoms are increasing around the world due to a rise in the number of authoritarian governments, theocratic states and extremist ideologies; and

Understanding that Marxist and communist ideologies have been particularly hostile to freedoms of thought, conscience and religion, and have frequently used the instruments of the state to control its populations without respect for basic freedoms; and,

Noting that these violations may derive not only from governments but also from civil society, the media, educational institutions, the corporate world, and among the cultural elite, who, out of ignorance or malice, seek to suppress or punish those who hold opinions or beliefs with which they disagree; and,

Witnessing most recently the rise of religious intolerance in Japan, where members of the Family Federation are currently being targeted unfairly by the media, by communists and left-wing ideologues, and by powerful political interests; and,

Recognizing that there exist forces within Japan, such as the Communist Party, that seek not only to promote intolerance toward religion, but also to weaken Japan’s relationship with democratic nations, on the one hand, and strengthen its relationship with communist nations; and

keith best 450 declaration 

Seeking a world where prejudice, bigotry, hate and violence, toward others have no place, we hereby resolve to:
Encourage all peoples, all multilateral organizations, and all governments to uplift and protect the right to freedoms of conscience, thought and religion for each and every individual;

Educate citizens to practice tolerance and mutual respect toward those who may be of different religious, cultural, ethnic or national backgrounds; and

Call upon governments to affirm and protect the right of each individual to follow their conscience in matters of faith and belief;

Reject the persecution of religious believers, including members of minority traditions or new religious movements;

Avoid the use of language or terminology, by governments, the media and the general public, that demeans, mocks, ridicules, disrespects or slanders the worldviews, values, ideals or beliefs of other citizens;

Educate youth in our homes, our classrooms and our places of worship to be respectful of all people; and,

Appeal to governments to live up to their constitutions and laws in protecting citizens from slander, discrimination, and violence.

In closing, and with utmost sincerity, we call upon all people throughout the world to affirm this declaration and to uphold the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and to stand firmly against all forms of intolerance, prejudice, slander, and hate toward others.

Furthermore, we call upon all people to affirm this declaration and to honor longstanding traditions of fairness and mutual respect, and to put an end immediately to the unjustified persecution of the members of the Family Federation in Japan, a persecution that has included 4,300 cases of forced confinement and kidnapping, noting that such violations of human rights, rooted in prejudice, religious intolerance, and one-sided, extremist allegations, must have no place in the great nation of Japan.

Affirmed this day, December 16, 2022

 

 

2nd Conference of Hope for Universal Human Rights and Religious Freedom

Understanding Threats to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

 

In light of attacks on religious freedom in China, Japan, the Middle East, and elsewhere, Universal Peace Federation, International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, and The Washington Times Foundation are convening the Second Conference of Hope for Universal Human Rights and Religious Freedom.

Conference of Hope speakers will focus on human rights issues around the world and offer solutions for overcoming threats to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

The event will be live-streamed from South Korea on December 17, 2022 beginning at 9:30 AM and will be accessible simultaneously in time zones around the world. In the United States, it will begin Friday, December 16, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. EST and 4:30 p.m. PST.

A highlight of the conference will be the presentation and signing of a Declaration in Support of Fundamental Human Rights and Human Dignity: Overcoming Threats to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion. “We call upon all people throughout the world to affirm this declaration and to uphold the universal freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and to stand firmly against all forms of intolerance, prejudice, slander, and hate toward others,” says the Declaration, which will be signed by international representatives, including 5,000 parliamentarians from 193 nations.

Distinguished keynote speakers include:

Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, specializing in foreign policy and civil liberties
Sam Brownback, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, US State Department (2018-2021)
Dan Burton, Member of Congress (1983-2013) and Co-Chair, International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace
Suzan Johnson Cook, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, US State Department (2011-2013)
Newt Gingrich, U.S. Speaker of the House (1995-1999)
Humphrey Hawksley, BBC Foreign Correspondent (1986-2016)
Daniel Herman, Minister of Culture (2014-2017) and Member of the Council for Human Rights, Czech Republic
Massimo Introvigne, Founder & Managing Director, Center for Studies on New Religions, Italy
Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria President (2010-2015)
Bishop Noel Jones, City of Refuge Church, Los Angeles, US
Don Meares, Senior Pastor, Evangel Cathedral, Maryland, US
Nevers Mumba, Zambia Vice President (2003-2004)
Michael Pillsbury, Director, Center on Chinese Strategy, Hudson Institute
Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State (2018-2021)
Yoshio Watanabe, Vice President, International Federation for Victory Over Communism
Young-ho Yun, Chairman, Conference of Hope Organizing Committee
The Conference of Hope series transcends political, religious, racial, and ideological boundaries and seeks to build a unified and more peaceful world around the core ideals of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.

Among the issues to be discussed are the prejudice and discrimination often faced by Muslim Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Bahais, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidis, Falun Gong and Unificationists.

The Conference of Hope is sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, and The Washington Times Foundation.

The Conference of Hope will offer translation in numerous languages. Please join us for this important and timely event at https://conferenceofhope.info/

Media Contacts:

Mr. Larry Moffitt, Vice President and Executive Director, The Washington Times Foundation This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. William Selig, Communications Director, Universal Peace Federation This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST - Mr. Peter Zoehrer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chinese Communists, Japanese allies seek to exploit Abe's assassination, former officials say - Washington Times

 

 

Humphrey Hawksley Speech Transcript:

Thank you for inviting me to this discussion. It is a complex issue that involves individual human suffering and the broadest of geopolitics impacting the global balance of power.

For any newspaper editor the assassination of a charismatic national figure by a lone individual is a compelling story. Add to that the harboring a long-ago grievance about a politically connected religious organization you have a cocktail of intrigue that sells newspapers and hike ratings. But underneath it lies a tapestry of stories which the media has so far barely brushed. They will, I hope, because it is important, and it is their job. How is it, we must ask, that the needle of interest has so seamlessly shifted from the flawed gunman who killed Shinzo Abe to the Unification Church which he blamed for taking donations his mother could not afford decades ago

An examination of the Japanese press coverage is telling on this. A survey of some five thousand stories carried out by a highly experienced media company shows that first month’s reporting focused on trouble between the Church and the killer’s family. The story was placed mainly on what in Japan are known as the social pages, as opposed to the political ones. 


In August, that emphasis shifted to the relationship between the Church and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Thus. it became political story and in the second week of August the cabinet reshuffle began. Those moved were accused of using the Unification Church to campaign on their behalf.
Let’s linger with that line or a moment – an upheaval within the cabinet of one of Asia’s very few fully developed democracies and a staunch American ally has been caused by politicians allowing a religious organization to help with their campaigning.

Yes, there is also the controversy of spiritual sales. But the Roman and Anglican churches are far from squeaky clean and can we imagine in Latin America, for example, such an accusation taking hold if a member of the Roman Catholic church campaigned on a politician’s behalf or in American heartlands, whether red or blue, could community churches really stay completely out of the local political fray.

No.

So why has it to become such a hot potato in Japan, and what elements need to be more closely questioned by the press?
The analysis of 4,238 stories from August through the November across the mainstream media – Yomiuri, Sankei, Asahi, Mainichi and Nihon Keizi, which is Nikkei -- found that not one gave a positive angle on the Unification Church.

The story was fueled by television reporting and interviews with those hostile to the Church, some of whom had links to the Japanese Communist Party, that left-right rivalry which is becoming more prominent again in national and international affairs.

Yes, evidence of reporting bias but in journalism a tsunami or prairie fire of reporting is not uncommon. Recently, here in Britain, the coverage of the death of the late Queen Elizabeth the Second carries barely a murmur from those who wanted to abolish the monarchy.

With more impact, there was lack of critical questioning on the invasion of Iraq. It had no weapons of mass destruction, the ostensible reason for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. That led to war and unrest that shook the Middle East costing so many lives and failing to bring stability.

Which is why critical questioning is so necessary with what is unfolding in Japan. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what’s happening. But after many decades of reporting from around the world, I do have the questions.

Who is ultimately benefitting? What does Shinzo Abe represent? What is the Unification Church, exactly, and how does it operate?

Let me start with that.
I have known the Unification Church and many of its associated organization for more than a quarter century. Back in the mid-1990s when I was the BBC Bureau Chief in Beijing it helped me get into North Korea with enviable access to places and officials normally denied to the media.
At the time, The Church was a pivotal player in negotiations to prevent a flare up or full-scale conflict on the Korean Peninsula and the Framework Agreement that emerged was in no small part due to the work of the late Antonio Bentancourt and his colleagues in the Unification Church.
I did know about its views. The Church makes no secret that its political heart is embedded in, for want of a better phrase, conservative values, and its connections run to the very top of the Republican leadership in the United States as seen by some of the prominent figures taking part in this discussion.

So what about Shinzo Abe? He was the mastermind of Japan’s new, robust security and foreign policy, pushing for changes to the pacifist constitution.
In the past few hours, the Japanese government has underpinned Abe’s vision by announcing a security strategy that ramps up its defense budget and describes China as an unprecedented strategic challenge to ensuring the peace in Japan and the international community.

Earlier it has announced it would be buying offensive Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Unites States and building a new fighter aircraft with Britain and Italy.

The campaign against the Unification Church has undoubtedly weakened the Japanese government. Shinzo Abe, the founder of the current, strategic vision is dead. Many voices opposed to that vision come mainly from what is broadly known as the left.

In journalistic slang, we call this a story with many feet, the unification church is just one of those feet. It is time the needle of interest examined other strands of this story which is about the battle for the ideological heart of Japan, the Indo-Pacific’s most successful democracy caught in the cross-hairs of change.

 

 

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