Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

UPDATE ON JAILED SOUTH KOREAN REUNIFICATION ACTIVISTS

The signs say "Release the political prisoners"
Three of the South Korean reunification activists remain in prison


I hope you remember my previous posts about the six South Korean activists who were arrested last May under the oppressive "National Security Law". They were charged with the following crimes: Calling for the abolition of National Security Law, demanding withdrawal of the US troops, a peace treaty between the US and the North Korea, and reunification of North and South Korea.

Imagine that.......

Three of the six have been released but the three in the photo above still remain in prison and are facing 3-5 year prison sentences. These three are from the Seoul office of the Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification (PKAR) and are in the top leadership of the organization while the three who were recently released worked in PKAR offices in other parts of the country and were not at the top levels of leadership. Clearly the present right-wing South Korean government is acknowledging that they don't really have a strong case against the three they have released although they have been each put on several years of probation.

I was recently asked by the lawyers for the three that remain in prison to send a letter commenting on their demands that US bases be closed and US troops be sent home. They wanted to show that this is a position that is held even in the US and I have gladly sent the letter.

According to Korean Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi, "The National Security Law was made by the right-wing in South Korea after the establishment of its own separate South Korean government [1948], to purge their opposition. The precedence of the law was the ‘Law for Maintenance of the Public Security’ under the Japanese colonialism (1910~1945) that oppressed the independence movement activists who were against the Japanese imperialism. The ‘Law for Maintenance of the Public Security’ under Japanese imperialism was called ‘the most vicious law in the world’ and was abolished by the order of the headquarter of the united alliance countries after the defeat of the Japanese imperialism on October 15, 1945. More than 13,178 have been indicted under the National Security Law and went to trial from 1961-2002. The law has been used for the purpose to oppress the progressive movement who criticized the dictatorship governments."

While recently in South Korea I visited Eun-A Choi (the woman in the above photo) at the prison where she is being held. She had facilitated the plenary panel I spoke on during our Global Network space organizing conference in Seoul last April.

It is obvious to me that these trials of PKAR activists are meant to strike fear in the hearts and minds of the South Korean people by their right-wing government. And I have little doubt that the US, which also wants to suppress the anti-base and reunification movements in South Korea, is privately encouraging the government to pursue these policies.

Similarly in the US we see the Obama administration refusing to shut down the Patriot Act which gives our government the power to suppress movements in this country that stand against its aggressive war making policies.

In times like these we must support activists in other countries who are being punished for their peace making efforts. You can write or call the South Korean embassy in Washington DC and tell them to release the PKAR activists from prison. Here is the information:

Contact

Address : 2320 Massachusetts Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202-939-5663
Fax: 202-342-1597

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