10/06/2022, 17.33
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Unification Church before the UN claiming persecution over Abe’s killing

In the eye of the storm since the murder of the former prime minister, the Church founded by Rev Moon filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee, saying that a “national tragedy” has been turned “into a bizarre narrative that makes the alleged assassin into a victim”. The Church also reported that its members have been the victims of attacks. Meanwhile, the affair remains a hot political topic in the country.

Geneva (AsiaNews) – The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, better known as the Unification Church founded by South Korean Rev Sun Myung Moon, has filed a formal complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee claiming that it is the victim of “a campaign of intolerance, discrimination and persecution” in Japan.

The religious group has been in the eye of the storm since last July following the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot to death by a man harbouring resentment towards the Church over huge donations his mother made to it.

The complaint, filed by the Paris-based Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (CAP-LC), calls for the UN Human Rights Committee to address “the ongoing suffering” of members of the Unification Church in Japan during its 136th session scheduled for 10 October-4 November 2022.

The 22-page complaint alleges that the rights of its members in Japan “were seriously, systematically and blatantly violated” after the 8 July murder by a man who hated the Unification Church.

The accusations also apply to some Japanese lawyers and media for “twist[ing] this national tragedy into a bizarre narrative that makes the alleged assassin into a victim of the Unification Church and blames the Church for the assassination.”

As a result, “Church members have suffered hundreds of personal attacks, assaults, death threats, acts of vandalism, and other forms of public abuse.”

The complaint slams public efforts to “name and shame” Japanese politicians who have participated in events linked to the Unification Church.

It appeals to Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to which Japan is a signatory – to protect both the right of citizens to participate in the democratic process and the freedom of elected representatives to “consult and cooperate with leaders and members of the religions of their choice”.

In Japan, the Unification Church remains a hot political issue. On Monday, speaking before the upper house of parliament, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he is ready to listen to the “harsh voices” of people who criticise the ties between many members of his party and the religious group.

Responding to calls for the Church’s dissolution, he noted that the issue “needs to be decided carefully in terms of freedom of religion”.

For his part, Hideyuki Teshigawara, one of the leaders of the Unification Church, held a press conference on 22 September at the Church’s Tokyo headquarters to respond to criticism over what happened to the family of Abe's murderer.

On that occasion, he explained that the Church would “take into consideration the financial situation of followers and ensure that donations are not excessive” while respecting the "free will” of its members.

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