Rallies for peace of the world
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1. Rallies for peace of the world
‘Candles for a peaceful 2003.’ The rally for two girls killed by an US Army’s armored vehicle was sublimated into a movement for world peace. In the rally held in Gwanghwamoon, Seoul, on December 31, the Pan-Korea Committee for Two Girls Killed by an US armored vehicle (PCGU) announced that the year 2003 would be ‘the year of peace and independence’, and the rallies extended from censuring the acquittal to demanding peace.
Nearly thirty thousand people participated in the rally over midnight and shouted ‘No more War,’ and ‘Peace for the World’ while making a river of candles flowing from Gwanghwamoon St. to Jongno St.
Korean residents abroad and also joined the candle rally with their neighbors in various countries. The sparkles of these candles waved as they headed west to Australia, Japan, Korea, China, India, the Middle East, Europe, Great Britain, North and South America and finally crossed the Pacific Ocean to end in Hawaii. The lights of candles showed people’s eagerness for peace on earth. PCGU intends to make the candle rally a worldwide movement for peace with other international peace and human rights organizations.
2. The police violently cracked down on the participants
Serious censure is being raised because of the police’s violent crackdown at the rear of Kyobo Bookstore and Jongmyo Park on participants who joined the ‘1st Human Body Chain Surrounding the US Embassy’ rally on December 21. Twenty-one police companies and 2,100 policemen blocked people’s approach to the US Embassy.
The police were violent even against the youth and children. Policemen hit and pushed them with their shields. People are asking for jurisdictional punishment on the police commanders who led the brutal suppression.
The police had suppressed similarly the protest against the acquittal of US soldiers in front of Camp Casey on November 21. The suppression triggered a heavy condemnation from the people and NGOs against the police.
The PCGU announced that they would use appropriate legal methods about the violence after getting information from the wounded. The PCGU released a statement on November 23 demanding punishment of the commanders, a public apology by the Chief of the National Police Agency, and a change in the rally response strategy.
Cyber PCGU also released a statement saying that the police’s brutal crackdown caused 30 innocent people to be wounded who continued in the non-violent, peaceful rally. It was unbelievable for the police, obviously run by citizen’s taxes, used violence to stop the rally, added Cyber PCGU.
3. It is not enough
The Korean and US governments announced that the Korea-US SOFA Council would agree on the following 5 items; joint investigation from the beginning, attendance of a US agent within an hour anytime, enough support for Korean prosecutors even after the US army has taken the suspect, providing information for investigation, and concealing all portraits of suspects.
These five items are far from what Koreans requested for the SOFA revision after the acquittal on the two girls death case in November. The inactive probe by the Korean prosecutors and the passive attitude of the US Army comes from the unfair SOFA; Korean prosecutors cannot do anything about US Army criminals whose crimes have taken place on duty. Even in 90% of non-duty crimes, the prosecutors surrender the cases to the US Army. Unless the two nations modify SOFA itself, improvements of these trivial items would not adequately occur.
We have asked for 1) reducing the range of criminal jurisdiction that covers US Army personnel, 2) making an equitable and favorable standard for the nations’ jurisdiction and its abandonment, 3) excluding the US Army’s right to a final decision on defining duty, 4) transferring the accused suspects, 5) deleting the article ‘no statement of the accused taken in the absence of such a representative shall be admissible as evidence in support of the guilt of the accused’, and 6) the article about the right to deny trials for their dignity.
The shamed Korean and stubborn US governments are betraying Korean people who are anxious for having an independent country. The two governments will face a serious protest by the people.
4. North Korea and the US both have to talk with each other (PSPD’s statement)
North Korea continued on the path of nuclear brinkmanship which breached the 1994 Geneva agreement. South Korea, which is trying to solve the problem peacefully, and the alliances were shocked. North Korea’s actions and its pursuit of a covert nuclear program undermined the international community’s efforts, and triggered concerns that activating their reactors could allow them to make plutonium capable of use in nuclear warheads. This rough response of North Korea could provide the hawkish part of the US government a chance to threaten war and ultimately put more pressure on North Korea.
We do not agree with the ‘Wedge Tactics’ of North Korea, which could lead the Korean Peninsula to the risk of war. If North Korea really wants to solve the problems, it has to stop getting rid of the seals on the reactors and ask the South Korean government, South Koreans NGOs, and international peace organizations for help to find peaceful and reasonable solutions.
Meanwhile we are stunned as well because US is speaking about ‘two wars feasibility’, ‘non-diplomatic methods’ and is neglecting the security of the Korean Peninsula’s people. Since last October we have urged the US, which has been pressing North Korea over the controversy about its nuclear development plan, to go to the negotiation table. However, the Bush Administration denounced Clinton’s contracts with North Korea and demanded that North Korea give up its nuclear development programs, even though North Korea has been willing to negotiate. It also has been accusing North Korea of being part of an ‘Axis of Evil’ and unilaterally cut off the supply of heavy oil. The capture of a North Korean ship and a statement about a nuclear attack made the situation worse. The US is the strongest nuclear-armored nation and the exporter who puts down weaker countries. We seriously ask the US to stop its hard-line diplomacy and ask North Korea to come up to negotiate immediately, quitting its reactor-acting.
For the peace and security of the entire Korean Peninsula, the South Korean government should intervene dynamically in the North Korean and US relationship. We are calling on the South Korean government to provide North Korea with heavy oil, power, and food to overcome its dismal economic status and call on them to make key resolutions to untie the entangled situation peacefully.
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