PSPD in English Civil-Political 2016-06-16   2921

[Statement] We Condemn Repression of Legitimate Voter Actions!

Police Seizes and Searches PSPD and Change 2016 Office

We Condemn Repression of Legitimate Voter Actions!

 

(16 June 2016, Seoul) On 16 June 2016, the South Korean police seized and searched the office of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), which has been used as the office of the Citizens’ Network for General Elections of 2016 (Change 2016), and the homes of involved activists, on the alleged charges that Change 2016 has violated the Public Official Election Act of South Korea. Change 2016 strongly condemns the police’s seizure and search.

 

Although the Public Official Election Act in its present form severely inhibits voters’ freedom of expression, Change 2016 has been organizing its campaign within the boundaries of the law in compliance with the opinion of the National Election Commission. Nevertheless, alleging that Change 2016 has been “meticulously and intently” violating the Public Official Election Act, the South Korean police set out disproportionate investigation and raid. Such police action obviously constitutes repression of voters’ legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression. 

The police claim that Change 2016 has conducted “a public opinion poll in the guise of an innocuous survey,” and held press conferences in front of the offices of “the 10 Worst Candidates” who were chosen by voters are acts of crime that go against the Public Official Election Act. 

 

Legal and polling experts, however, have confirmed that the survey that Change 2016 conducted was indeed not a public opinion poll. Moreover, Change 2016 has never displayed the names and photographs of the candidates in front of their campaign offices. Although the present Public Official Election Act curtails voters’ freedom of expression, Change 2016 has made sure to operate within the boundaries of the law. The latest attack on Change 2016 in the form of sudden police search and seizure is rather arbitrary, and demonstrates the political motive of threatening and repressing the works of the South Korean civil society.

 

We, at Change 2016, hereby demand that the South Korean police immediately stop its arbitrary investigation of Change 2016. Why should the government abuse its power in this way to silence voters, when it should do more to guarantee and respect voters’ rights to freedom of expression? All civil society organizations affiliated with Change 2016 will work together to fight this abuse of legal enforcement.

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