Unification News for September and October 1999
Religious Freedom Victory
I'm happy to report a recent victory that occurred because of the joint efforts of our Japanese and American members. The US Statement Department has taken official notice of the fact that the Japanese government does little or nothing to protect the rights of its adult citizens who are illegally held prisoner for purposes of forcing them to abandon their chosen religion. The report can be seen at:
Although the report could have been worded more strongly, we feel this is an important first step toward influencing Japan to take action that would make deprogramming a punishable crime in Japan, where between 200-300 Unificationists per year suffer from religiously-motivated kidnapping and imprisonment. As one of our Japanese members involved in this struggle, Mr. Norishige Kondo, said: "Soon most of the Japanese members will know the fact and will become happy. I can estimate that the report is great because the nation of religious freedom pointed out the Japanese hidden crime."
I would also like to alert all national leaders to the fact that the US is interested in promoting religious freedom through this report. If your members are experiencing problems in exercising your right to religious liberty, you can report the problem to the US Embassy, and they should forward the report to the State Department for possible inclusion in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.
Our International Coalition for Religious Freedom can also help in this regard, by following up with the State Department to make sure your complaint is properly processed. We cannot initiate claims from the US, however. We hope that future annual reports will cover the situation in many more countries where the rights of our members and our True Parents are being infringed. We have been assured by the highest officials that they will take our complaints seriously. In the case of Japan, the State Department directly intervened on our behalf when our members had trouble getting an appointment with an Embassy official in Tokyo.
If you are considering filing a complaint, I would appreciate your letting me know, and sharing a copy of the complaint with our office. We can also help you to identify the appropriate person to contact if you have trouble gaining access.
Dan Fefferman is director of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom
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