Posts Tagged ‘#Coronavirusnews’

International Scholars Raise Concerns Over “An Attempt To Destroy A New Religious Movement” In South Korea

CaribPR Wire, WASHINGTON, D.C,. Tues. July 28, 2020: On July 20, a webinar on a new religious movement in South Korea and its political, religious, and social dimensions with the recent COVID-19 crisis invited international scholars and experts in the field of religion, international law, and human rights.

Titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea”, the webinar addressed the recent issues of aggressive attack from politically powerful conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches in the country on a newly-established, fast-growing Christian denomination named ‘Shincheonji (New Heaven and New Earth) Church of Jesus’ founded in 1984.

The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it,” said Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.

Alessandro Amicarelli, Chairman European Federation for Freedom of Belief, pointed out that the South Korean authorities problematized Shincheonji as a cause of the COVID-19 crisis to shut down the church. “Already 30 other people were tested positive before the patient 31 (a member of Shincheonji criticized for the widespread of the virus). Many Chinese including ones from Wuhan had visited Daegu (of South Korea) and infection spread,” he said.

Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), said that the recent attack on Shincheonji can be viewed as an attempt by the fundamentalist Protestant groups in South Korea to weaken and destroy the competitor in the religious market. He added, “Human rights violations against Shincheonji members through coercive conversion program (also known as ‘deprogramming’) with kidnapping and confinement for the last decade have been made as a result of the failure of competition from the Protestant churches in the country.”

Ciaran Burke, Associate Professor in University of Derby, said that the South Korean health authorities explicitly link Shinchoenji and outbreak of the COVID-19 until now even though a greater link between the virus and confirmation cases has been found in other churches. He also expressed concerns over “collecting personal information of 300,000 domestic and international Shincheonji members by the government which is a possible violation of international agreement, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) South Korea ratified in 1990.”

The prosecution initiated investigation of Shincheonji leaders including founder Man Hee Lee for his alleged role in the widespread of the COVID-19. Three Shincheonji officials were arrested on July 8 on a charge of playing a role in major outbreak at its early stage by “(submitting) inaccurate list of members.”

“The authorities ignored requests to change the word ‘sect’ in their official reports when referring to Shincheonji church. Local governments encouraged the residents to report Shincheonji congregation and facilities to the authorities, creating stigma that the members were to be treated as criminals,” said a Shincheonji official in the webinar.

A recent statement issued by “families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19” wrote that “the thousands of the damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government.” It added that the Minister of Justice Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that she is trying to avoid her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for a raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church.”

A leading South Korean TV network, MBC reported that a recently conducted screening at Daegu, epicenter of COVID-19 major outbreak within South Korea added the weight to the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government. The report, citing analysis from a local university hospital, inferred that at least 180,000 of the total population of 2.4 million people in the city of Daegu were infected with the COVID-19, 27 times to the official 6,800 confirmed cases. Most of the confirmation cases, over 5,000, are members of Shincheonji Church as their personal information was collected by the government, while the remaining 180,000 potential infections have not been investigated.

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Religious Discrimination Is Hindering The COVID-19 Response

CaribPR Wire, Mon. July 20, 2020: Unintended pandemic-like consequences from the COVID-19 have been striking the globe. With the unclear root cause of the disease, minority groups have become the target of the blame with the spread of the crisis.

“When people with prejudices are worried and feel that they have no control over a scary threat like pandemic, they will turn to the tried and true tactic of scapegoating the usual suspects: religious minorities and other persecuted communities,” says Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Centre, a US based think tank.

The cases of religious suppression have been on the rise around the world as a coronavirus epidemic is deteriorating. BMJ, one of the top four medical journals in the world, released an interesting thesis titled “Religious discrimination is hindering the COVID-19 response“. The British Medical Journal, BMJ, was first published in 1840 and is regarded as one of the world’s leading medical journal.

About 150,000 medical professionals are involved in this journal, dealing with the recent medical issue and providing medical knowledge and information concerned. Just about 20 percent theses submitted to BMJ are published in this Journal, which are often quoted by other medical professionals around the world.

According to the research paper, India’s 201 million Muslim citizens now find themselves blamed for the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. In the southern Indian state of Karnataka, two Muslim men were reportedly beaten and made to kneel and apologize for “spreading the virus.”

Over 3000 members of the Tablighi Jamaat subsequently spent more than 40 days in quarantine with government authorities refusing to discharge them. The Indian government levelled charges of culpable homicide at Tablighi Jamaat chief Muhammad Saad Kandhalvi when at least six of the group died of the infection after attending an event in March, before the countrywide lockdown.

In Cambodia, Buddhists are blaming Muslims. In Israel, Jews are blaming Arabs. Fear and misunderstanding are stoking hatred worldwide—and it is harming the fight against the pandemic.

The paper introduces a case in South Korea, the members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus—labelled “heretical” by fundamentalist Protestants—are facing a probe after a congregation became the center of the country’s biggest outbreak in February. But what’s striking is how discrimination played a part before the outbreak.

“Members of the church refrained from being tested to avoid discrimination,” says Willy Fautre, executive director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International. “This was detrimental to them and public health as well.”

They are extremely careful about their religion exposed to others for the fear that they can get discriminated, bullied, or unemployed because of their religion.

Actually, it is reported that about 6,000 Shincheonji church members whose religious identity was revealed to others experienced severe discrimination and unemployment, and two of them lost their lives.

Despite the tragic incidences, about 4,000 former COVID-19 patients of Shincheonji members who got cured have decided to donate their blood plasma for the development of treatments for COVID-19. The donation of the blood plasma of 500 former COVID-19 patients has started this week.

Swami Vedanand Saraswati, Spiritual Head of Arya Samaj in South Africa – “I firmly believe that the Chairman, a man of great integrity, has done and continues to do all in his power to aid in fighting against the COVID-19 virus, and assist the relevant authorities where possible. As a Hindu Spiritual Leader in South Africa, I fully support the Chairman and laud the selfless gesture from him and his congregation. I implore the South Korean Government and other relevant authorities to immediately drop all charges and lawsuits and rather support the efforts of the Shincheonji Church in encouraging other recoverees to donate their plasma. Let us all follow the noble example set by the Chairman and encourage support towards the fight against COVID-19.”

Furthermore, Dr. Manu Singh, Hindu Spiritual Leader, Chairman of Sarva Dharma Samvaad in India, expressed his thoughts on such a suppression of the religion. “With the suffer of a pandemic, we need to overcome the crisis by becoming the one rather than hating each other. Being the one with the solidarity will be much effective treated following the physical vaccine and the treatment. Furthermore, the freedom of the religion specified in the constitution should be kept. I raise the voice to stop unfair treat to HWPL and Shincheonji church, and the Chairman Lee who sacrificed part of his freedom.”


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500 Recovered Congregation Members of Shincheonji Church Donate COVID-19 Blood Plasma

CaribPR Wire, VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia, Weds. July 16, 2020: Among the members of the Shincheonji Church, 500 people from Shincheonji Church, who have recovered from COVID-19, are donating blood plasma this week.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in cooperation with the Korean Red Cross, set up mobile plasma sites to extract blood plasma from 500 congregation members of Shincheonji who have recovered from COVID-19. This represents a 200% uptick in plasma donations in South Korea. Before the mass donation, South Korean officials reported that about 170 people’s blood plasma were collected nationwide.

In June, 4,000 members of Shincheonji pledged to donate blood plasma. Due to logistical issues, 55 members were able to donate blood plasma before this week. The 500 members’ blood plasma will be procured within the week by using blood donation cars that can extract blood in large quantities. This is thought to be the first round of donations.

Health officials from the Mayo Clinic and U.S. Food and Drug Administration believe that plasma donations may contribute greatly to the treatment of COVID-19 patients as well as contribute to the research and development of novel immunotherapies. Preliminary results of one trial cited by UpToDate, showed a statistically significant rate of improvement in patients treated with donated plasma compared to those who received standard therapies (91% compared to 68% respectively).

The plasma donated by Shincheonji will be used to make similar treatments after clinical trials.

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Correction in Total COVID-19 Deaths for Latin American and Caribbean Nations

SEATTLE, June 25, 2020 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ – An unintentional error in calculating total deaths for Latin America and the Caribbean resulted in IHME issuing an incorrect total for the region in a June 24 press release and on its website. The reported total of nearly 388,300 excluded Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The updated total for Latin America and the Caribbean is 438,698 deaths. IHME regrets the error.

The forecasted deaths for individual nations are correct. IHME will continue to update as new data are available.

The forecasts can be viewed at

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Royal Caribbean Announces Voluntary Suspension of Cruising

MIAMI, March 13, 2020 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ – Today Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced that it is suspending cruising in the United States for 30 days.

We understand the gravity of the public health crisis confronting the country. And this is our part to play. So, beginning at midnight tonight, we are pausing the fleet’s US sailings for 30 days.

We are reaching out to our guests to help them work through this disruption to their vacations, and we are truly sorry for their inconvenience. We are also communicating with our crew to work out the issues this decision presents for them. We know this adds great stress to our guests, employees and crew, and we are working to minimize the disruption.

Cruises that depart U.S. ports before midnight tonight and international cruises will operate their scheduled itineraries. U.S. ships already at sea will finish their itineraries as planned.

Our business is providing great vacations and creating great memories. We look forward to getting back to work as soon as we can.

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