PSPD Newsletter : May 2014
- 2014.06.24 (10:57:25)
PSPD English Newsletter : May 2014
<The report form Lee Tae-ho, secretary-general at the PSPD>
This month of the PSPD, Dreams we are making together.
The whole nation is mourning. Sinless girls and boys have lost their lives in front of people watching. Contrarily from irresponsible ship-owner and captain, and while coast guard and the government ran in confusion, young teachers and students calmly reacted to the disaster and a few crews tried to save passengers. Regrettably, they died paying for the price of being orderly and sensible mature citizen.
With a bitter and shameful heart, we wish victims of Sewol Ferry rest in peace.
Sewol and Ohamana run by Cheonghaejin Marine Co. are familiar ferries to civil societies because they are often used when to visit Gangjeong village in Jeju. It is such a startling accident. Life-extended ship has sunken. Then what if something happened at life-extended nuclear plants? If an accident happened at the reactor-1 at Gori and initial reactions were in confusion, damages would be beyond description in writing and speech.
Sewol accident revealed that dangers and threats within our society can be more destructing than from outside, and the society is too weak to prepare for those dangers.
Most of all, this disaster is showing various faces of our broken society. On the reversed side of irresponsible captain and crews, and moral hazard of inspection authorities and marine associations, there are greed pursuing profits, deregulation, irregular jobs, evil custom to grant privileges to retired high-ranking government officials of their former post, appointment without a formal recruiting procedure, conference behind the curtain and cronyism. They are all realities of Korean Capitalism and Bureaucracy.
Are profits and security of bureaucrats are more valuable than the people’s life in this country?
Korea has the world 12th largest economy and is a top 10 defense spender. However, suicide toll is also top in the world and the nation is suffering from industrial accident, social tragedies and disasters. While the government speaks up ‘National Security’, safety and lives of the people are in danger more than any other countries in the world.
A Senior Secretary to the President for National Security said the National Security Office and the National Security Council are not the control tower for disaster rescue. It is a confession admitting that the interest and priority of the government are not the safety and lives of the people.
Before putting blame to someone, we can’t help ourselves falling in low self-esteem. When Seongsu Bridge collapsed 20 years ago, PSPD declared to upright the upside down society and started sailing. One of the first projects was appealing for legislation which asks responsibility for shoddy construction and corruptions, and prevents reoccurrences. However, same problems have repeated but in bigger scales. PSPD has worked for participatory democracy and human rights for the last 20 years. Then, are citizens of this country being treated with dignity and as a host? What kind of society we have stayed in night working and fighting for? We are shamed and sorry for children both dead and alive.
Please do not forget. Let’s upright upside down world and broken country with the power of citizens!
PSPD believed that grand discussion has to start on priorities of our society. This tragedy should not be forgotten. PSPD makes a pledge to change Korea to a true democracy state which places top priority in the safety, lives and happiness of the people. Sewol Ferry accident will be coordinates to reflect past activities of 20 years-old PSPD. A nation of the peace and welfare is a new vision which PSPD is going to make together with citizens and it starts from that pledge.
As one of citizens, PSPD will mourn and move together with families of victims and citizens. As a power watch organization, PSPD will put all its efforts for finding the truth and preparing prevention measures in all fields. Most of all, forums will be held at the various levels in which citizens can share their feelings and acknowledgements on Sewol Ferry disaster. PSPD will try to change priorities of identity of the state and policies in order for the people to live safe from social, economic and environmental disasters.
Pledges of PSPD can be found in the statement released on 24 April “With bitter grief and shameful mind….”
Briefs on PSPD activities in April
● While mourning for Sewol Ferry accident, PSPD and civil societies have continued candle rallies every weekend urging to adopt special prosecutor investigation for illegal intervention of national organizations including NIS in the presidential election and spy fabrication scandal. Especially on 19 April, ‘Again 419, a Candle Peace March wishing for restoration of democracy’ was held together with a candle rally with more than 1,000 citizens in commemoration of 54th year of 4.19 Revolution. Participants prayed for missing passengers of Sewol Ferry to come back home alive.
● PSPD established the Network for Fair Regional Government Election and Prevent Intervention of National Organizations on 3 April in cooperation with more than 200 civil and social organizations nationwide. The Network plans to block national organizations from intervening in politic pretending to carry out cyber psychological welfare, and subjects to watch include National Intelligence Service, Cyber Headquarter, Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs and the Ministry of Education.
● The Judicial Watch Center of PSPD presented the ‘Report on the Prosecutors during the first year of Park Geun-hye government’ on 1 April. The conclusion was ‘Miserable people, Prosecutors are under control of the Cheongwadae’
● PSPD reported eight people in relation to illegal leakage of information on a former chief prosecutor Chae Dong-wook for violation of Personal Information Protection Act, National Intelligence Service Act and misfeasance of criminal laws. The majority are current employees of NIS and the Cheongwadae.
● PSPD requested ‘Collective Dispute Mediation’ to the Korea Consumer Agency for economic and psychological damages caused by communication disorder of SK Telecom on 2 April to proxy drivers and quick service, and urged for reasonable compensation.
● The Seoul Administrative Court decided on 3 April that dismissal of Jeong Jin-geuk was unjust who blew the whistle on unfair trades and performance manipulation of an affiliate of POSCO group. Jeong has received a Righteous Citizen Award in 2013. The Public Whistle Blower Support Center urged the company to give up an appeal and reinstate Jeong’s position.
● After the tragedy of a mother and two daughters, a handicapped Song Kuk-hyun who stayed at home alone lost his life from the fire in April. The Social and Welfare Committee keeps working to improve unreasonable ‘Duty of supporting the family system’ and reform Basic Livelihood Security Act in order to remove blind sides of welfare system.
● The People’s Action to upright National Pension held an event ‘Candles of young citizens in anger for sham basic pension bill of the government – Candles for the pension, Let’s Dance together’ on 15 April at Boshin-gak in Jongno with around 500 citizens. It is also strongly appealing against an intention of the New Politics Alliances for Democracy executives to compromise with reform bill of Saenuri Party.
● The Alliances for Minimum Wage in which PSPD participate has demanded a minimum wage of 6,700 KRW or above per hour which to be applied from 2015. It is 28.6% increase compared to current 5,210 KRW and 1,402,000 KRW in a monthly wage.
● The National Assembly discussion <Deadly forced transfer; testimonies and searching for counter-measures> was jointly held in cooperation with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Korean Railway Workers Union on 8 April and talked about forced mass transfer of thousands of railway workers who participated in strikes opposing against privatization of railroads.
● Concerning deregulation drive of Park Geun-hye government by calling regulations a ‘cancer’ and an ‘enemy’, PSPD published a joint issue report <Questioning Park Geun-hye government, is every regulation an cancer?> and consecutively held a National Assembly discussion. In the report, ‘Worst 11’ tragedies as a result of indiscriminate deregulation were selected and presented. Sunken Sewol Ferry is one of the cases brought from deregulation.
● April 14th is the Global day of Action on Military Spending and 28 Peace and Human rights organizations including PSPD and 22 lawmakers held a press conference in front of the National Assembly, followed by street campaign speaking out to “Spend taxed for the welfare not warfare”.
● PSPD was invited to a public hearing for ‘Legislative bill for dispatch of Korean armed forces to overseas’ and insisted strict restriction. Especially, it argued that dispatching forces under the title of ‘Dispatch of coalition forces’ and ‘Disaster relief mission’ should stop.
● Having a visit of the president Obama ahead, the National Assembly hastily ratified unfair <Special agreement on contributions for US armed forces in Korea> on 16 April. The Peace and Disarmament Center of PSPD and other peace organizations strongly protested and one of PSPD activist was forcibly kicked out from the National Assembly hearing.
● In addition, PSPD organized a forum at the National Assembly to discuss two core agenda of the Korea-US Summit TPP (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership) agreement or Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific and defense cooperation between Korea, Japan and US. In an international symposium <Current status and future outlook of TPP> held on 18 April, Lori wallach a director of Global Trade watch, part of American advocacy group Public Citizen warned that “Ultimate goal of TPP is privatizing state-own corporations and consequently democracy and public policies will be threatened by corporations”. Furthermore, participants for the discussion ‘Korea-US-Japan defense cooperation and peace for the North East Asia’ expressed concerns on movement of Korea towards Korea-US-Japan military alliance for the purpose of confronting with China as requested by US, and said in one voice to prepare democratically controlled procedures for altering defense treaties.
● Before above, PSPD and the Peace Forum of the Coalition of civil and social organizations drafted the <Report on Peace Policy for Korean Peninsula> and distributed to the US embassy, diplomatic missions and overseas’ peace organizations in Korea. The report assesses disputes for the last 20 years regarding nuclear issues of North Korea and points out that ‘hostile ignorance’ policy which Korea and US government have maintained has failed.
● On 17 April, right after Sewol Ferry sunk, PSPD and victim families of Teaan private marine camp accident urged authorities to find the truth of Teaan oil spill and Sewol Ferry disaster and to sincerely handle the cases. Afterwards, victim families of Taean visited Jindo Sewol Ferry disaster site.
● Korea Communications Commission attempted to give severe penalty to a producing crew of JTBC ‘News 9’ on 21 April because of interview with an marine rescue expert Lee Jong-in and showed how to rescue passengers of Sewol by using a diving bell. The Commission argued that the interview stirred rescue process. The Public Interest Law Center of PSPD presented criticism that the Korea Communications Commission tried to oppress media which criticize the government. It also had one-person demonstration on 28 April in front of the Commission. Ahead of this attempt, the Commission already gave a penalty to JTBC on 3 April for showing Yoo Woo-seong a victim for < Fabrication scandal to make Seoul City government employee a spy > and his legal representative at the news. The Public Interest Law Center listed up six commission members and their comments, and distributed in the cyber space.
End of the report from Lee Tae-ho, secretary-general at the PSPD
<Peace and Disarmament>
The safety is more urgent matter than the national security for Korea
‘Spend our taxes for welfare not warfare’, the 4th Global day of Action on Military Spending campaign
Kim Seung-hwan, activist of Peace and Disarmament Center
Sewol Ferry disaster revealed the reality that our government spends billions for the national security but does not have the system to rescue people in help.
June 14th was the Global Day of Action for Military Spending that more than 320 organizations around 70 countries spontaneously held a campaign expressing concerns on excessive expenditure on arms and demanding to redirect military spending for investments in sustainable development and the peace. Domestically, 22 lawmakers and civil groups held a press conference and street campaign.
It was the 4th Global day of action and key words of this year were ‘Disarmament’ and ‘Welfare’. Main messages focused on reducing excessive military spending and investing budgets for solving problems of employment, education, housing and medical generated by social polarization, and eliminating insecure factors and worries such as large-scale disasters and safety-related accidents.
The military spending of Korea in 2013 ranked at top 10 worldwide. However, expenditure on social welfare as a percent of GDP is placed at 33rd among 34 OECD states. Suicidal toll reaches at 15,000 per year and 1/3 takes their lives because of economic difficulties. Until when safety and happiness of citizens living in ‘daily wars’ have to give away to notional national security? Campaign participants questioned what are real threats to be solved urgently delivering the story of a mother and two daughters’ incident in March.
‘Spend our taxed for welfare not warfare’! In other words, it means the national security comes from the safety of the people. We wish the government to stop arms race, and pursue multilateral cooperation and trust building. It is also desirable to invest for expanding social safety net and building security system.
Thank you and we will be together till the end.
A ‘Day to fall in peace wine’ a fundraising pub was held on 29 March in order to support Gangjeong village residence and activists who have been fined millions to tens of millions in the course of opposing the Jeju naval base construction. We would like to express gratitude to people who came to a pub and showed concerns and supports with their hearts from the distance. Activities of fundraising committee for Gangjeong legal support will continue. We would not let people who have fought for the peace bear more than 300 million won of fines alone. Please be with us till the end.
■Contribution to : Woori Bank 1005-202-432127 (Account under the name of Gangjeong Legal Support Fundraising Committee)
■Membership : cafe.daum.net/peacefund
■Inquiry : Peace and Disarmament Center of PSPD 02-723-4250 firstname.lastname@example.org