SOTERIA INTERNATIONAL contribution to OSCE - HDIM 2018 - WORKING SESSION 7:
Fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief
13th September 2018:
HOW UNIVERSAL IS THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS TODAY?
• Soteria International recommends ODIHR and the OSCE member states to explore how to guarantee the universality of human rights as universal principles, rather than cultural expressions.
• Soteria International recommends ODIHR and the OSCE member states to explore how religion and spiritual systems from a universal perspective may provide answers to fundamental human needs and tools for developing human potentials.
• Soteria International recommends the OSCE member states to the educational system to play a major role in reintegrating religion and belief as a constructive part of our lives. By integrating and understanding religions and belief systems by their universal principles, we overpass the differences between cultures, traditions and religions.
At the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we would like to ask: How Universal is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights today?
Especially when it comes to Freedom of Religion and Belief we find great confusion, where even in the heart of Europe we find that what would pass as civil service in a secular frame (such as coaching your child's football team), when practiced in a religious context (offering one’s service as karma yoga) can be tried as a criminal offence (human trafficking).
SOTERIA INTERNATIONAL CONTRIBUTION TO OSCE HDIM 2018
WORKING SESSION 5- RULE OF LAW
12 September 2018
Today, rule of law is challenged not only from arbitrary application of the law within certain OSCE member states, but increasingly by how the tools regulating the interaction between different national judicial systems lacks a precision to hinder abuses and misinterpretations. Thus, the very tools for securing the rule of law open a risk for its corruption.
1- Soteria International recommends the ODHIR and all OSCE member states to embrace an investigation into stopping cultural bias to influence the application of tools of international judicial collaboration.
2- Soteria International recommends international bodies and all OSCE member states to scrutinize the frameworks regulating international judicial collaboration in general, and especially with regards to the European Arrest Warrant, in order to prevent human rights infringements in the margins between one national judicial system and another.
We live in world of increasing international collaboration. In trade, science and art, international collaboration is carried by its own mechanisms, some cultures being inter alias more compatible than others. The tools of judiciary international collaboration do not have the privilege of letting an organic process develop, but is regulated by imposed regulations. The bluntness of these regulations seem to open for abuses and misinterpretations, intentional or not.
Soteria International & Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP) invite you to our upcoming conference, hosted at the OSCE HDIM 2018:
How Universal is “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”?
Globalization underline that the UDHR is often applied relative to regional culture, rather than securing universal principles. Especially when it comes to Freedom of Thought, Religion or Belief we find how cultural bias influence policy and law-making. What one considers a religious practice - such as devotional work in monastery - others consider criminality - in this case human trafficking.
Often it passes as a non-regrettable consequence of natural differences between one culture and another. Still, what may pass as normal when it comes to cultural norms, must still be questioned when presented within the framework of human rights, claiming to be universal.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is based on converging and finding common ground between different cultures. However well accomplished, Mrs Roosevelt's project never sought a base for Universality other than an estimation from a fixed position in time and space.
CAP, Church of Scietology, EMISCO, FOB, FOREF will be together with Soteria International in debating the Universality of UDHR.
Heavily persecuted in China, with many documented cases of torture and extra-judicial killings, hundreds of members of The Church of Almighty God have escaped to South Korea, where they are seeking refugee status. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pursuing them also in Korea. It has coerced or persuaded with threats their relatives to go to Korea and ask that the refugees “return home,” i.e. go back to China where they would not go “home” but to jail, and is staging false “spontaneous demonstrations” with the help of local organizations against the “cults.”
Together with several others NGO, Soteria International addressed a common letter to Italian Minister of Economy, Mr. Giovanni Tria. He is currently visiting China and we hope that the disscussion to reach also to the freedom of belief and religious liberty.
Here is the letter:
"Dear Mr. Tria:
We wish you a fruitful visit to China on behalf of Italian economic interests.
Last July, Italy was an official participant in the Washington D.C. “Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom”. There, 82 countries solemnly agreed that religious liberty should be regarded as a non-negotiable cornerstone of international relations.
We hope that the good economic relationships between China and Italy may help you in raising with your Chinese counterparts the matter of the gross violations of religious liberty in China, which became even worse with the new laws on religion that came into force in 2018.
The Board of Immigration Appeals granted on August 13 a stay of removal to the leader of The Church of Almighty God in four Chinese provinces, who was to be deported to China after August 15.
We are now pleased to report that the application for stay has been granted.
The Board will now examine the substance of the matter, and the legal battle is far from being over, but the immediate risk of repatriation to China – where Sister Zou would be arrested and may be executed – has been averted.
Mr. Russell Abrutyn, attorney for the leader of The Church of Almighty God in four Chinese provinces currently detained in Detroit, who faces deportation back to China and possible execution there, has filed a motion to reopen her case, with new evidence.
Ms. Zou Demei, a Chinese woman, is currently detained in Detroit and facing deportation back to China, where she will be arrested and probably executed.
Ms. Zou was until 2016 the regional leader of The Church of Almighty God (CAG), a Christian new religious movement banned in China, in the four provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Chongqing, and Sichuan. This made her one of the top leaders of the CAG in China, and one of the most wanted by the authorities, with a substantial bounty placed on her head. As all CAG members, she destroyed all evidence of her true identity and went under the pseudonym of Yao Lu.
Dear Chancellor Merkel:
We are NGOs active in the field of religious liberty, and write about the urgent situation of a Chinese refugee, Ms. Zhao, currently detained at the Aufsichtsund Dienstleistungsdirektion Landeseinrichtung für Asylbegehrende und Ausreisepflichtige in Hamburg, after she resisted forcible deportation to China on July 9.
We urge you to consider that, should Ms. Zhao be returned to China, she would certainly be arrested and might be subject to torture or “disappear” while in custody.
Ms. Zhao is a member of The Church of Almighty God (CAG), also known as Eastern Lightning, a Chinese Christian new religious movement founded in 1991, whose core teaching is that Jesus has returned on earth incarnated as Almighty God, a Chinese woman currently living in the U.S.
Dear President Trump:
We are NGOs, some of them with ECOSOC consultative status, active in the defense of human rights and religious liberty, with a special experience and concerns for China, and write to ask for your urgent intervention in a question, literally, of life and death.
It regards an asylum seeker of a Chinese Christian new religious movement, The Church of Almighty God, who is detained in Detroit, Michigan, and threatened with immediate deportation back to China, where she will be arrested and will be at serious risk of being executed.
The European Pillar of Social Rights was jointly proclaimed and signed by the European Commission, European Parliament, and the Council at the Gothenburg Social Summit in November 2017. The European Institutions hold regular high-level meetings and dialogue seminars with churches, non-confessional, and philosophical organisations as partial fulfilment of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
On 26 June 2018, the European Parliament brought together representatives from religious communities for a dialogue on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, a “set of 20 principles and rights that support the renewal of labour markets and welfare systems across the EU.”
Economic and political challenges have hurt the quality of life for many in Europe. Risk of unemployment and poverty remains high, many deal with precarious and unstable work, unpaid or underpaid internships are on the rise, and Europe is falling short of many goals outlined in the EU 2020 strategy.
Mairead McGuinness, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, emphasised the unique importance of churches and other religious communities in responding to these challenges, and defending human dignity and contributing to public policy debates. “You are present in every town and village across the 28 Member States.”