[Statement] 30 days of Sewol ferry tragedy, still 20 victims missing
30 days of Sewol ferry tragedy, still 20 victims missing
(16 May 2014, Seoul) It has been thirty days since the South Korean ferry Sewol capsized and sank off the coast of Jindo. So far, 284 bodies were discovered and came home to their families whereas 20 are still in the submerged ship. We are with the family members camped at the Paengmok harbor crying their hearts out from the pain of losing loved ones and of still not being able to see them. We are now urging the government and the searching authorities to continue search efforts to bring the missing victims to the arms of their families.
Meanwhile, joint prosecution-police investigative team announced its preliminary investigation result on the 15 surviving crew members including the Captain. Further investigation must not leave any suspicion unexplained including possible occupational negligence, wrongdoings, and corruption.
As painfully evidenced by the photo images and videos taken by the victims in the sinking ship and the first-hand testaments by the survivors, the coast guards did not even attempted to get into the ship to save passengers. This is no less than giving up the lives of 300 people who could have been saved. We strongly condemn the outrageously irresponsible actions by Korean Coast Guard(KCG) which constitute “Death by Occupational Negligence”.
Moreover, the guards allegedly delayed rescue efforts or even downright shut out navy rescue force and civilian divers who volunteered to help life-saving efforts. There should be explanations as to why the guards did not allow engagement of those who came to rescue the people trapped inside the sinking ship. From what we have seen and heard, the coast guards were clearly guilty of negligence. Coast guards are not the only ones that should be held accountable. Jindo VTS (Vessel Traffic Service), whose duty was to monitor Sewol when the ship was clearly in distress and send an alarm to the coast guards, neglected its duties for reasons unaccounted as of yet. There remain numerous other suspicions such as why one of the coast guards took the Captain to his own house on the day his escaped from the ship and let him spend the night there, why the CCTV footage of the guard’s house is wiped of the 2 hours when the Captain was there, how the ‘Undine Marine Industries’, the company specialized in salvage and not rescue become collusive with the coast guards, and whether the phones of victims uncovered from the submerged ship and later found in the hands of the guards were tinkered with. We will not rest until these suspicions are cleared.
For that, investigation should be done independently of any influence from the KCG.
The faults surrounding Sewol tragedy seem to affect all corners and ranks of our society and investigations by prosecutions alone cannot bring them to the light. The government should pay heed to the calls of the people and the civil society to make a special organization and to invite participation from them. Most importantly as of now, the authorities should spare no efforts to search the rest of the missing people promptly and bring them back to their devastated families.
Once again, we extend our hearts out for the victims and the family. We will keep our promise to stand with them in their sorrow and outrage and the unfolding fight for truth.
For more information or media inquiry, please contact People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (Ms. Gayoon Baek, firstname.lastname@example.org, +82 (0)2 723 5051).
Korean Statement >> 세월호 참사 30일, 아직 못찾은 20명을 생각합니다
(Translated by Yoon-jeung Son, Volunteer)
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