PSPD Newsletter : September - October 2013
- 2013.10.25 (15:02:27)
PSPD English Newsletter : September - October 2013
Thank you very much for your congratulations on PSPD 19th birthday party
The 19th birthday party of PSPD was held on 10 September at Sejong Art Center with the theme “Sympathy and Action”. PSPD members, executives and a great number of supporters have come to celebrate the 19th birthday and requested PSPD to step forward deeper and sincerely to where lives are maintained for the world everyone is free and valued.
The event ‘Sympathy’ started with sandart of an artist Matilda. Every scenes made by sands were stunning that the audience gave a sigh of admiration. The history of ‘Actions’ which took place various locations in the world were recalled and guests loved the movie showing people in action right here. When Lee Chang-seop, the chairman of Namyang Dairy Agent Council gave a speech on ‘Sympathy and Actions’ and PSPD awarded plague of appreciation to him, participants were touched. Namyang Dairy Agent Council conveyed a heartily thanks to PSPD for solidarity to feel ‘Eul’s situation together and improve ‘Gab’s tyranny.
The finale was a chorus. Under the conducting of Lee Tae-ho, secretary general of PSPD, members, activists, and executives sang together ‘Do you hear the people sing’ a score from a musical <Les Miserable> and ‘the one makes me happy’. Beautiful harmony seemed to prove their hard practices and moved participants.
Lee said “I believe that power to change the world comes from citizens who feel and understand pains and traumas of each other and solidify. I wish our activities can provide a ground to form warm solidarity and promise to step forward to the scenes where people’s lives are maintained.” PSPD gave a word to feel and understand more citizens and show it’s sympathy in actions.
* You can see a movie of PSPD members, activists and executives singing together at PSPD the website >> http://www.peoplepower21.org/1071085
<Greetings from PSPD>
Hello, readers! Greetings from Lee Tae-ho, secretary-general of PSPD
The temperature in mornings dropped down after autumn rain. Beware of catching a cold.
Thanks to congratulations and great interests of members and citizens, the 19th birthday party of PSPD which all executives and activists had prepared for two months has been held successfully. On behalf of PSPD, I want to express our great gratitude to everyone who supported and were there with us. Regretfully, far-right organization members put up a banner “PSPD defending Lee Seok-ki, stop supporter’s night” and held a rally outside a party venue. There was a member even holding a knife in mouth. I felt really stifling seeing people coming to a birthday party to make an absurd assertion and threaten guests. Nevertheless, members and citizens gave us comfort and strength.
• The press released recordings of meetings where a lawmaker Lee Seok-ki and some Unified Progressive Party members participated, and what had been said during meetings were preposterous and embarrassing. As a public political party, the Unified Progressive Party should not simply insist that the recording is manipulated but furthermore take the responsibility to reveal the truth for voters what exactly its members have done. Most of all, this incident shouldn’t become an excuse to pardon NIS’s political maneuvering and intervention in the presidential election. Finding the truth and calling for accountability must not stop or delay.
• News articles on Chae Dong-wook, the president of prosecutors’ office have become controversial because the Chosun Daily insisted without verifying facts that Chae has a son outside of his marriage. While prosecutors’ office and the press were trying to find the truth based on explanation of concerned parties, and before facts were confirmed, the president Park Geun-hye and Hwang Gyo-an, Minister for Justice ordered to monitor Chae. According to justice authorities, Minister’s monitoring order implies the intention to fire him. In other words, it was a political revenge since Chae has been relatively active towards investigating NIS’s illegal intervention in politics. Therefore, PSPD held a press conference on 16 September in front of the Blue House denouncing the order, calling for withdrawing it and dismissing the Justice Minister. It also asked Park Geun-hye to stop wrongful intervention and giving orders against prosecutor’s office.
• Weekend candle rallies on NIS’s situation in which PSPD presents continues after full moon holidays. Collecting signatures calling for appointment of special prosecutors to find real face of NIS’s illegal intervention in the presidential election is still in progress. NIS’s partial crimes founded by the prosecutors are on trials at the moment. The Prosecutors have worked pretty hard on the case so for but now it is a question if they would keep its stance after the president of prosecutors’ office stepped down because of pressure of the Blue House. Now, it gives more clear reason to proceed for independent special prosecutors to find the truth.
• Having ahead of regular assembly session and finalizing the budget, PSPD is closely monitoring Park Geun-hye’s promises on livelihood and welfare made during the election campaign and transition committee period since they have been executively changed or retreated.
• Despite the fact that Park Geun-hye promised not to privatize the Railroad without consent of the people, her government is forcing privatization which was put on hold at Lee Myung-bak government because of opposition of public opinion. The Civil Council for the Public Interest of Railroad in which more than 220 civil and social organizations participate held a press conference on 3 September together with the Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea to protest enforcement of the government.
• Park Geun-hye government practically gave up the promise to pay 200,000 KRW of basic pension to every elderly. The government said to pay basic pension to only 70% low income earners, even discriminately by the period of National Pension payments. If it is executed as planned, people who sincerely have paid National Pension would not be eligible to receive basic pension. It obviously breaks the promise of paying basic pension to all the elderly as well as weakens National Pension Scheme itself.
• PSPD and Peace organizations have pointed out that government’s plan to purchase FX (Fighter Experimental) is foggy, hastily processed and in fact, unnecessary overinvestment. On 24 September, the government decided to hold a decision for selecting which FX to buy.
• As mentioned by the secretary-general of PSPD in the last newsletter, Constitutional appeal was submitted to the Constitutional Court on 25 September to decide whether a clause prohibiting all rallies and protests within 100 meters from the fences of National Assembly Building violates the constitution.
<Civil and Political rights related activities>
It’s time to adopt class-action lawsuit to save unspecified masses who suffer from minor damages
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1061614 - Korean only)
The open discussion <How to adopt class-action lawsuit system and disciplinary damage suit in order to establish fair market economy> was held on 23 August at the National Assembly. The discussion wanted to argue that adopting class-action lawsuit system is necessary to make easier for saving collective damages often seen in consumer, labor and environment filed and prevent damages caused by offender’s repeated illegal acts. Politicians are trying to include the system in the Fair Trade Act to improve unfair relations between ‘Gab’ and ‘Eul’ and a proposal ‘comprehensive class-action lawsuit system’ embracing consumer, environment and labor area has been submitted to the National Assembly. PSPD has been urging to adopt the system over 10 years.
In fact, the Ministry of Justice reviewed adopting the system in 1996 during Kim Young-sam government and drew a proposal. However, it didn’t go further facing the opposition from business and economy field. They argued it would weaken corporate investment and expressed concerns on abusing legal actions. At the moment, a class-action lawsuit is possible for bond and security matters and when first introduced, business field opposed with the same reason. However, the lawsuit has been rarely used. There has been no sign of abusing but rather almost no use.
Class-action lawsuit system facilitates many but unspecified persons to get compensated for minor damages. If damages were caused to many people but minor for each person, it is difficult to prove damages and expenses for a legal action is usually higher. In this case, one person or small number of people can take it to the court representing all potential plaintiffs without being entrusted and the system allows unspecified plaintiffs not directly involved in a lawsuit to claim for their share of compensation when won the case or reached a mutual consent. Having this legal system will stop acts of giving damages to people and shamelessly ignore it saying “Sue me if you can”.
In 2000, 115 residents near Kimpo airport went for a collective lawsuit against Korea Airport Corporation and the State for damages from airplane noises. It would have been easier if there was a class-action lawsuit system since more than 10,000 who did not join the trial took it to the court again when 115 residents won compensation. Even though it was the same case, it took four years to repeat the whole process from proving damages for 10,000 plaintiffs to winning for compensation. Thanks to these legal actions, more efforts will be put in to reduce the noise when building gigantic transportation facility.
The Center for Public Interest of PSPD expects to bear fruits this time in adopting class-action lawsuit system. It has been proved by eight-year experience from the bond and security related class-action suits that arguments raised by business field were nothing but excuses. Now it’s time to discuss about designing the system considering extent and effectiveness which ensures the concept of making collective damages to be compensated in an easier way and stopping repeated illegal acts of offenders.
<Socio-Economic Rights related Activities>
Korea-EU civil societies, work closely to prevent offshore leaks
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1084424 - Korean only)
Since 2012, PSPD and Eurodad (European Network on Debt and Development) are jointly working on a project for sustainable and accountable development of the finance in cooperation with Korea and EU civil societies. Recently releasing the list of offshore tax evaders has raised issues not only in Europe but also in Korea, and aggressive tax avoidance of multinational corporations naturally has become a main target of this project.
Hence, PSPD has held <2013, to make a welfare state: international conference of civil society for prevention of offshore leaks and transparent financial business> on 9 October and invited Eurodad and an Asian Region activist of Financial Transparency Coalition, another related international organization. In addition, connecting workshop <Strengthening the power of activists for tax justice movement> was held on 10 October.
Through this international conference, PSPD tried to suggest essential tasks for financial reform and measures for fair taxation to move forward for making Korea a welfare state. Specifically, resolving the issue of tax avoidance using international trade is an important task to bring underground economy above the ground as suggested by Park Geun Hye government as a national assignment. Therefore, the conference thoroughly discussed offshore leaks and tax evasion of high income owners and corporates.
To prevent offshore leaks in tax havens and enhance transparency of financial trades, it is necessary to break secrecy of the finance and get information from whistle-blowing, and international civil society should make an effort to accomplish them. With this opportunity, PSPD will share experience of civil societies in Europe and Asia, and seek for various ways of cooperation. These efforts are essential attempts to get precious experience and will make a foundation to go for a welfare state.
<Peace and Disarmament>
Peace for Syria! No more death
Picture : On 9 September, civil and social organizations in Korea are giving performance in front of US embassy in Seoul protesting US’s military intervention in Syria
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1069134 - Korean only)
In March 2011, protests of citizens have begun demanding democracy and to free young people who were arrested for criticizing Assad government. As Assad government brutally suppressed protesters, rebel troops were organized by citizens to fight back. The civil war broke out and mascaras and revenges have been repeated between the government and rebels over the last two years. More than 100,000 people have been killed, and it generated two million refugees and four million internally displaced people.
On 21 August, it was reported that more than 1,400 civilians were killed by use of chemical weapons near Damascus Syria. UN conducted the investigation and released the result on 16 September that massive chemical weapons against civilians including children were used in Syria. Unfortunately, who should be responsible for the use is not known yet. US, UK and France believed that chemical weapons were used by Assad side and said to sustain rebels opening the possibility for military intervention but on the other hand, Russia raised possibility of use by rebels. On 4 September before UN investigation team released the result, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations authorized the limited and specified use of the US armed forces against Syria pointing out Syrian government to be responsible for chemical weapons. Korean government reacted supporting the resolution. Therefore, PSPD and 20 civil and social organizations in Korea expressed serious concerns on US government’s plan for air raid attack in Syria and handed in an official letter to the White House and US embassy in Seoul urging to withdraw a plan of military forces in Syria. As public voices criticized senator’s decision both domestically and internationally, voting for a resolution has been postponed.
Russia suggested on 12 September to have the control of chemical weapons of Syrian government under the international society. Bashar al-Assad the president of Syria said to sign on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and provide information on chemical weapons in 30 days. According to principles of the convention US and Russia agreed, Syria is to dispose chemical weapons by mid next year and fully disclose possession status of chemical weapons in a week. In addition, Syria should accept international surveillance team in Syria to investigate chemical weapons before November. Despite all these, Syrian government is failing to gain trusts from the international society in terms of disposal leaving chances for external military forces. Now, it is unclear if there would be peaceful future in Syria. The Peace and Armament Center of PSPD urged international society to put efforts for making Syrian government and rebels to start peaceful resolution by talks rather than reckless military actions. It also keep asking for Syrian government to actively cooperate for giving up chemical weapons
*IDP, Internally Displaced People : Internally Displaced People is also called people displaced from hometown. It refers to people who had to leave their homes and hometowns because of civil war and bloody disputes.