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Global Leaders Urge South Korean Government and the UN to Correct Religious Oppression in the Name of Covid-19 Quarantine

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Baseo Panday, former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobego
Baseo Panday, former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobego

 

As the spread of coronavirus continues to increase around the world, voices from the international community are rising to stop religious oppression occurring in South Korea, known as an exemplary case for Covid-19 quarantine.

 

On August 17th, the Coalition of Caribbean Leaders for Peace (CCLP) consisting of the former and current leaders in the Caribbean including the former president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sent a joint letter to South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

 

In the letter, they said the governments, even in response to the urgency of the pandemic, must take responsibility for the protection of human rights regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status and expressed concern about ongoing oppression against Shincheonji Church, a South Korea-based Christian denomination that suffered from the unexpected mass infection at the beginning of this year.

 

Ahead of this joint letter, 11 NGOs including the European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP-LC) submitted the “annual report for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights” regarding the inappropriately targeted discrimination against Shincheonji Church to the UN Secretary-General.

 

The annual report was titled “Scapegoating Members of Shincheonji for COVID-19 in the Republic of Korea”.

 

The letter briefly pointed out the facts surrounding Shincheonji and Covid-19 as follows;

  • Covid-19 was introduced to South Korea from China.
  • According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus was already prevalent in the city of Daegu before the confirmation of (Shincheonji) the Patient 31 (in Daegu).
  • The government’s refusal to close the border to China contributed heavily to the outbreak.
  • In the face of growing public discontent that the government did not impose a travel restriction on China, Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae ordered the prosecution to investigate Shincheonji.
  • Vice Minister of Health confirmed that the list of private identification information gathered was not much different than that collected and checked by the government.
  • Prosecutors have arrested the officials of Shincheonji on the grounds that the list of congregation members submitted by Shincheonji was not complete.

 

By referring to the report “Factsheet on the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on religious practice and religious freedom” by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the joint letter reiterated that South Korea provides a vivid example of how public health emergencies can increase the risk to marginalized religious groups.

 

They pointed out that the South Korean government’s silence about the current situation would set a dangerous global precedent for allowing similar persecution, violence, and harassment against other religious minorities, and strongly urged the Korean government to “step forward to an end to this discrimination.”

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HBO Max Acquires Morgan Freeman & Lori McCreary’s THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN For Streaming Starting November 19

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Following the Gravitas Ventures day and date theatrical release, HBO Max has acquired exclusive streaming rights to the award-winning, critically-acclaimed film THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN. The film will debut on the platform Friday, November 19. Based on a true story, the film was directed by David Midell (NightLights), produced by Midell and Enrico Natale of Redbird Entertainment, and executive produced by Lori McCreary, Morgan Freeman and Gary Lucchesi of Revelations Entertainment, along with Sharad Chib, Chris Paladino and Milan Chakraborty.

THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, which won a bevy of prestigious awards during its festival run, tells the heart-breaking true story of the events that led to the death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., an elderly African American veteran with bipolar disorder who was killed by the police during a welfare check after his medical alert device was accidentally activated. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances and the overly aggressive policing tactics that make the news on an all-too-frequent basis, the life of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. ended at the hands of those who were sworn to “protect and serve.”

The film’s HBO Max debut date, November 19, 2021, is the 10-year anniversary of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.’s death.

While the title of the film gives away its tragic end, the real-time reenactment of Chamberlain’s final moments alive are a powerful reminder of how interactions with the police can, and do, end for many people of color, and people with mental health challenges, in the United States.

As a former behavioral therapist, and on the autism spectrum himself, director David Midell comes to this material with an added layer of personal experience. “Our goal all along has been to ask important questions about how our criminal justice system treats people of color, people in low-income areas, and people living with mental health challenges.

“I always say it’s bigger than my dad,” Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. said. “It’s about all the lives that have been lost in this pandemic of killing black men, women and children. And I just hope that the film is…going to force a discussion.”

Producing partners Freeman and McCreary were incensed that the film could not find distribution, and immediately offered to help by using Freeman’s voice and Revelations’ brand to help amplify the story. “We simply could not stand by and see this film ignored. Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.’s story, whose death in 2011 was largely ignored by the national media, deserves to be known by the world,” states Freeman and McCreary.

THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN comes at an important time in the national conversation about systemic racism and is a searing example of law enforcement’s sometimes callous and cruel treatment of people of color, echoing recent high-profile incidents involving George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, among countless others. THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN world-premiered at the Austin Film Festival and won the Audience Award and the Narrative Jury Award there. At the Urbanworld Film Festival last year, it claimed the Jury Award for best US Narrative, and continued winning at festivals, and led to an independent Spirit Award Nomination for David Midell in the “Someone to Watch” category.

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