The Words of the Fefferman Family
Like all residents of Japan, our Unification Church members are suffering significant hardships related to the recent earthquake and tsunami. I am glad to report, however, that as of this writing, we know of no loss of life among Unification Church members, although some of their relatives did lose their lives. In Sendai, the Unification Church pastor reports that he has been able to confirm that the entire congregation is safe, but many are staying in shelters.
As far as our team members go, US project manager Ichiko Sudo tells me that her dad and mom are OK (she's Ken Sudo's daughter). Japanese team leader M. Kajikuri was here in DC with us when the quake hit. His folks are also OK, but his elderly mother got stuck in a grocery store with no way home and had to stay the night there. Others have children who had to stay overnight at their school. Many people report having no heat, only occasional power, or running short on basic food supplies like rice. Many phone links are still down. However, none of these problems is life-threatening.
Meanwhile, the news on our human rights issue is mixed: At present, two sisters remain missing and are presumed to be undergoing "deprogramming" while their fiancés attempt in vain to obtain help from the police. Also, another victim's fiancé, Mr. Ujami, was arrested and jailed for the "crime" of attempting to contact her after she said in a letter that she was breaking off their engagement. Incredibly, he now faces criminal charges for "stalking" his own fiancée merely because he tried to confirm whether she was acting under duress. Read more at humanrightslink.blogspot.com/
Despite these setbacks, we can also report important new positive developments. Something you may not have heard about from last year is that two kidnapping attempts were foiled as a result of a rapid-response program we helped develop. At-risk members were given small GPS alert devices before going home to visit relatives, and they were able to activate them in time to be rescued. Also, in January of this year one sister escaped from her confinement-apartment shortly after she was detained, making use of a power pole located about a meter outside her third-story window!
About the case of Toru Goto, the brother who spent 12 years in confinement: The civil suit against his captors and faith-breakers is scheduled to begin on March 22. It's unclear, however, whether the case will go forward as scheduled due to the earthquake situation. Please keep him in your prayers. We especially want to see two of the defendants brought to justice: Christian minister Rev. Yasutomo Matsunaga and professional "deprogrammer" Takashi Miyamura. These men are the "Ted Patricks" of Japan, and a judgment against them will send shock waves through the faith-breaking movement that has done so much damage to our members.
In a related issue, our younger-generation members are facing serious pressures and outright persecution on University campuses throughout Japan. New members risk kidnapping and "deprogramming," often with the collusion of teachers or University officials. Others face academic threats and other forms of discrimination. To find out more about this please read the series of articles we've published at www.religiousfreedom.com
After several delays due to various providential events and one illness, In Jin Nim returned to Capitol Hill last week (before the earthquake hit) and briefed three more Congressmen about the situation in Japan. It is truly inspiring to see her on the front line, fighting for the rights of our Japanese sisters and brothers. She's also using an excerpt from the new video she produced, which is very effective. I'm hoping it will be generally available soon. Because of the urgent need to concentrate on direct support for Japan's physical needs, In Jin Nim postponed this week's return visit to the Capitol. We also postponed several other events, including a March 22 protest rally across from the White House.
I will be traveling to Geneva next week to speak at a UPF/WFWP event and the United Nations Human Rights Council. This is a great opportunity to bring our issue to key human rights leaders. Because of support from our Western donors, I am proud to say that this trip will not need to be subsidized by our Japanese brothers and sisters. So I want to thank all of you have contributed to this effort. (I encourage everyone else to give as well!)
I want you to know that ICRF has endorsed President Obama's nomination of Suzan Johnson Cook as the new US Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom. The Ambassador oversees the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom and advises the President on issues related to religious freedom. Rev. Michael Jenkins and I had breakfast with Dr. Johnson at a recent ACLC Women In Ministry conference, and we both feel she will make an excellent advocate for religious freedom. I've written Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Richard Lugar and ranking member John Kerry to urge them to act swiftly to ratify her nomination, which has been lingering since June 2010.
Please remember: whenever you shop at Amazon.com, go first to www.religiousfreedom.com and "click through" by using our link to Amazon at the lower left. We get a 4-5 percent finder's fee for every purchase made this way, and it does not cost you a dime! While you are at it, please consider making an online contribution to ICRF, or -- better yet -- setting up an automatic monthly contribution. Just click on the button that says "Donate by Paypal or Credit Card."
Thanks as always for you interest and support!