[UN Advocacy] Urgent Appeal on a Death of a Tenant in “Ahyeon-dong” Reconstruction Area
- UN Advocacy
- 2018.12.11 (10:40:59)
on a Death of a Tenant in “Ahyeon-dong” Reconstruction Area
Dec. 11th, 2018
On December 3rd, 2018, Park Jun-kyung (37 years old), a tenant in a reconstruction area of Ahyeon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, threw himself into Han River and was found dead. Ahyeon-dong is one of the sites where Ms. Leilani Farha, the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing visited during the country visit to South Korea in May 2018.
Mr. Park left a note that he and his mother were forcibly evicted from the area three times this year. After being evicted in September 2018, the family decided to live in an empty house in the area that had not been demolished yet, because the family had no place to move in and they had lived in that area about 10 years. On November 30th, when they were forcibly evicted from the temporary residence once again, he had to be outside in the cold for three days and he finally committed a suicide.
The international human rights standards emphasize that comprehensive resettlement plans should be proposed in the process of development. However, as South Korean laws only protect the rights of tenants of redevelopment areas, tenants of the reconstruction area of Ahyeon-dong who demanded their rights to housing had to face the violently forced evictions.
Ms.Farha expressed in the End of Mission Statement to Republic of Korea that she was “concerned that the current legal framework for redevelopment and reconstruction fails to comply fully with the right to adequate housing and the Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement (A/HRC/4/18) and General Comment No. 7 adopted by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/1998/22).” And Ms.Farha also urged “the Korean Government to bring its policies and the legal framework governing reconstruction and redevelopment of urban areas into full compliance with the” international human rights law.
South Korean government is responsible for the situations, as South Korean Laws does not have enough procedures to prevent forced evictions. This is a serious violation of international human rights law. More seriously, the situation of Ahyeon-dong has yet to be finalized. A more powerful forced eviction program is set to be implemented in the near future. There are no judiciary procedures to protect the housing rights of the tenants in the area.
2. Forced Evictions in Ahyeon-dong and Violation of the Right to Housing
In 2003, the reconstruction area of Ahyeon-dong was designated as one of “New Town” development area in Seoul. The reconstruction union was established in 2003 but the project was not progressed over 10 years. The reconstruction plan was established in 2013, and the plan has been finally confirmed in 2015. Most residents including tenants did not know that the development was being pursued because the development had not progressed for 10 years. The tenants noticed much later the reconstruction plan was approved, so they had no opportunities to oppose the plan, to suggest an alternative proposal, or to claim their rights to housing.
The development process should include all those who can be affected and basic elements for them. However, Ahyeon-dong tenants did not hear any information about development and eviction, nor did they get any opportunities for public hearings. The union and Mapo-gu office did not deliver any information to them, nor did they offer a comprehensive resettlement plan, because they were tenants.
Since 2018, violent forced evictions have been carried out. A gang hired by the union stayed all day in the area and committed violence to the residents. As a result, many of the tenants forcibly moved out without proper measures for resettlement. Violent forced evictions, which began in the summer of 2018, were mobilized by more than 100 members of the gang each time. On November 1st, the gang removed a 90-year-old elderly and a son from their house by using more than 10 fire extinguishers and shooting that towards their faces. The violence forced evictions were repeated 30 times over three months from August to November in 2018.
The International Human Rights Standards state that evictions shall not be carried out in a manner which violates the dignity and human rights to life and security of those affected, that Governments must also take steps to ensure that women are not subject to gender-based violence and discrimination in the course of evictions and that the human rights of children are protected.
The Mapo police station, which should have protected the tenants from the violence committed by the gang, did not even investigate the case and remained in a very passive manner. The Government and its agents neglected their obligation to take steps to ensure that no one is subject to direct or indiscriminate attacks or other acts of violence.
Even though the Seoul Metropolitan Government requested the Mapo-gu office to issue strong administrative measures such as cancellation of construction and authorization for the reconstruction union that violated the principle of forced evictions in Seoul in late October and early November, the agency did not take any administrative actions against forced evictions.
According to the international standards on human rights, governments must ensure that adequate and effective legal or other appropriate remedies are available to any person claiming that his/her right to protection against forced evictions has been violated, or is under threat of violation. Also, states must adopt legislative and policy measures prohibiting the execution of evictions that are not in conformity with international human rights obligations and should refrain, to the maximum extent possible, from claiming or confiscating housing, or land in particular, when such action does not contribute to the enjoyment of human rights. In the current case, the state and the district office represented the interest of the enterprise, instead.
Due to the violent forced evictions by the gang of the reconstruction union, and the avoidance of the responsibility of the central government, the metropolitan government, the local government, Mr. Park, who lost his house at the beginning of winter, suicided. South Korean civil society organizations define the death of Park as a ‘social murder’ resulted from forced evictions.
3. Suggested Recommendations
The remaining residents of Ahyeon-dong are demanding that the South Korean government, from central to local levels, to take appropriate measures and adequate resettlement plans to protect their housing rights. The Government should take every possible action to prohibit all types of violent forced evictions. The Government should enact a law to ban all types of forced evictions and to establish and implement legislative, administrative and judicial measures, with an aim to avoid forced evictions or minimize the violation of human rights in the process of eviction.
4. Contact Details
LEE Wonho, Korean People’s Solidarity against Poverty
HONG Jeonghoon, People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
5. Submitted by
South Korean NGOs, working on the right to adequate housing
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy(PSPD), Truth-finding Commission on Yongsan Disaster, Lawyers for a Democratic Society ("MINBYUN"), Womenlink, The Homeless Action, Korean People’s Solidarity against Poverty, Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice(CCEJ), Disability and Human rights in Action, Dongja-dong Sarangbang, The Korea Center for City and Environment Research(KOCER), Minsnail Union, Minsnail Housing Cooperative, Community without Housing Problem(CHP), MAMSANGMO, Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, Korean Coalition For Housing Rights(KCHR), Committee of Urban The poor Ministry, Korean Union of Tenants (KUT), Korea Women’s Association United (KWAU), Korean Solidarity for Overseas Community Organization(“KOCO”); Migration and Human Rights Institute, Earthian Station, Women Migrants Human Rights Center, Korea Migrant Human Rights Center, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU), Immigrants Advocacy Center GAMDONG, GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation, Dongcheon Foundation, Duroo.
The Letter Mr. Park has left
I was living in 572-55, Ahyeon-dong, Mapo-gu with my mom. I have lost everything except my luggage due to the three times of forced eviction.
I have no place to wash, to eat, to sleep, or to stay in the freezing weather of this winter.
After standing the cold in the outside for three days long, I feel so terrified to see another day is coming. So I have no choice but to suicide.
But I’m worried about my mom, who has fought for a long time with our fellows.
She has no place to go.
Please give her a flat to live in, so that she should not go the same way of mine.
It hurts so badly that I have to watch my mom getting worse.
Mom, I should have done better for you. Please forgive me. I know You’ll be heartbroken when you find me.
Thank you for everything that you gave to me, I love you so much. Thanks for everyone.
<The family of Mr. Park Jun-kyung decided not to hold the funeral of him until the Government fully investigate the violence occurred in the development area of Ahyeon-dong and punish all those responsible.>
<People gathered to condemn Mapo-gu Office pushed Mr. Park to suicide.>
<White dressed gangs hired by the reconstruction union, and the tenants sitting.>
<The gangs hired by the reconstruction union blocked the entrance of tenants’ residence.>
<Ms. Leilani Farha speaking with a tenant in Ahyeon-dong on May, 2018.>
<Ms. Leilani Farha taking pictures of demolished buildings in Ahyeon-dong on May, 2018.>