Friday, December 03, 2010

Japan: Thousands Rally in Japan to Defend Religious Freedom and Protest Human Rights Violations

More than 20,000 Japanese citizens are expected to rally on December 3 to "Protect Japanese Human rights and Religious Freedom." Beginning at 11 a.m. in Tokyo's Hibiya Park, more than 3,000 demonstrators will commence the protest that will see similar gatherings scheduled in all 47 prefectures throughout the country. After rallying, the Tokyo protestors will conduct a formal demonstration in Hibiya's Large Music Hall at noon.

The protests will seek to draw attention to the ongoing human rights violations of Unification Church members who have been confined by "faith-breakers" in an attempt to force them leave the religion. Experts confirm that the government and police have done little to stop the practice – a violation of both Japanese law and international human rights standards.

"Deprogramming is a kind of spiritual rape involving kidnapping, false imprisonment, and a fundamental abuse of the human right to religious freedom," said Mr. Toru Goto, an abduction victim who has become an icon of religious persecution. Mr. Goto recently spoke to more than 150 scholars at the annual conference of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) to detail his terrifying experience of kidnap at torture at the hands of religious deprogrammers in Japan. He will be at the rally in Tokyo to show his support for the cause.

The rally is sponsored by the International Coalition for Religious Freedom, the Unification Church, and an association of victims who returned to the Unification Church after escaping or being released from confinement.

More than UC 4,000 members have been subjected to human rights violations over the past 40 years. Between 10 to 20 Unification Church members are currently abducted each year in Japan to undergo forced de-conversions. Victims who escape their captors report the use of force, prison-like conditions, and intense pressure to change his or her faith. There have been reports of beatings, starvation, and rape. Approximately 1,300 abductees have returned to the church after their ordeals. As frustration of Japan's inaction mounts, victims have been increasingly speaking out on the abduction issue.

SOURCE International Coalition for Religious Freedom