SOUTH KOREA: Who is responsible for this brutal tragedy?
4 February 2009 7:00 pm
This statement was released by People's Solidarity for Participatory
Democracy (PSPD), FORUM-ASIA's member in Seoul on 20 January 2009, as a
response to the death of at least four people and 17 seriously injured
due to police violence due to their resistance against forced
demolition of a building. PSPD wants Kim, Suk-Gi, Seoul Police
superintendent to be held responsible and the National Human Rights
Commission was requested to investigate the case!
This statement was released by People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), FORUM-ASIA's member in Seoul on 20 January 2009, as a response to the death of at least four people and 17 seriously injured due to police violence due to their resistance against forced demolition of a building. PSPD wants Kim, Suk-Gi, Seoul Police superintendent to be held responsible and the National Human Rights Commission was requested to investigate the case!
1. This morning (20 January 2009), at least four people died by fire and 17 people were seriously injured while a special police unit was dispatched to crackdown on the human rights defenders who were fighting against the forcible demolition of the building. This was such a brutal tragedy. It was a foreseeable disaster since the police forcibly committed a special unit which used water cannon against the human rights defenders who were fighting for their basic human rights. PSPD prays for the repose of the deceased and that the government should find out the truth behind this disaster. It is to be hoped that the responsible person for this incident be held to account, in order to prevent further disasters in the future.
2. Primarily, the commander of the police should be held responsible for this incident because he dictated the bringing in of a special police unit and initiated the violent crackdown. The special police unit that came into force during this incident was from the Seoul Police Office and directly under the command of Mr. Kim Suk-Gi, Seoul Police superintendent, mainly in charge of anti-terrorism measures. At the same time, it has been found that Mr. Kim directly authorised this incident. It is not understandable that an anti-terrorism unit should be brought in to deal with a demonstration by human rights defenders. At the same time, it is questionable whether it was necessary to forcibly crackdown on the demonstration while human rights defenders were fighting with Molotov cocktails. It is crucial to discipline Mr. Kim Suk-Gi as the person responsible who initiated this violent and unnecessary crackdown.
3. Seoul Police superintendent, Kim Suk-Gi, gave rise to public criticism by proposing a mileage system, whereby points would be awarded to police officers who arrest human rights defenders participating in candlelight vigils. Also, he is responsible for violent crackdowns of these peaceful candlelight vigils. It is natural that this disastrous incident should happen right after Mr. Kim Suk-Gi was appointed as Seoul Police superintendent. The South Korean government's response to human rights demonstrations has been to appoint Mr. Kim to use violent methods of oppression. It is known that Mr. Kim who is also closely linked to the President. This murderous incident happened not long since the government forcibly cracked down on a demonstration requesting basic individual human rights.
4. This incident involved the biggest number of civilian deaths in the last 10 years. Police should not investigate this case since they are the main perpetrator. Therefore, the National Human Rights Commission should investigate the case. Most of all, the Commission must clarify the background of this tragic incident and ask for legal responsibility to those who have responsibility. PSPD again prays for the repose of the deceased – those who fought to protect their basic human rights.