by WorldTribune Staff, August 14, 2020
The City of Seoul, citing coronavirus concerns, has banned a group of conservative activist organizations from holding a large anti-government protest on Saturday, a report said.
“At least 26 organizations have been planning large protests to be held in various locations in Seoul on Aug. 15 to mark the Independence Day (1948) and the Liberation Day (1945) of South Korea,” East Asia Research Center reported.
“The major themes are calling for the impeachment of President Moon Jae-In and opposition to the government’s new restrictions on real estate, including efforts to criminalize multiple home ownership and the government setting rent amounts.”
On Thursday, however, the City of Seoul announced that it issued an administrative order to the 26 organizations, banning the assembly due to covid concerns.
Coronavirus had been cited by the Seoul city government in the past “to ban religious worship,” the East Asia Research Center reported.
But the government, amid the pandemic, has not stopped the ruling Deobureo Minjoo Party’s (Democratic Party of Korea) political rallies, Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon’s (ruling party) public funeral, labor union rallies, and subway riding (millions a day), the report noted.
The city government’s use of coronavirus as the reason to ban the rally comes despite the fact that South Korea has reported to have the virus under control. Government data, as of Aug. 14, says that 14,873 South Koreans have been infected and 305 have died. South Korea has performed over 1.6 million covid tests with a positivity rate of just 0.9 percent.
Warm-up rallies were held on Aug. 8. The reported noted that participants wore face masks and held placards stating “Dismiss Moon Jae-in” and “Do you think this country belongs to you (Moon Jae-in)?”
“Some groups vowed to rally on Aug. 15 as planned, pointing out that the Seoul City government is using coronavirus as an excuse, further stating that freedom of assembly and political association are rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” the report said.
Meanwhile, East Asia Research Center’s Tara O noted in an email that “Yet another letter was sent to Moon Jae-In imploring him to stop suppressing the North Korea Human Rights organizations and defectors/escapees. This letter is signed by American officials who have served under presidents Nixon through Trump, both Republican and Democrats.”
Defense Freedom Foundation
August 12, 2020
His Excellency Moon Jae-In
President of the Republic of Korea
The Blue House
Seoul, Republic of Korea
RE: Oppression of the North Korea Human Rights Movement by your administration
We the undersigned are writing you today as individuals who greatly value the friendship and the strong alliance between the people of South Korea and the United States of America, but we are deeply troubled by the actions of your administration aimed at undermining the North Korea human rights movement by targeting all the major organizations that work to help rescue, educate, protect and/or improve the lives of North Koreans. We represent individuals who have worked in the administrations of both Democratic and Republican Presidencies including former Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and represent nongovernmental organizations that span the political spectrum in the USA, but we are all united with this concern: it is the responsibility of the international community, especially the Republic of Korea, to uphold the human rights of the people of North Korea. As stated by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the People’s Republic of Korea (February 2014): “The international community must accept its responsibility to protect the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from crimes against humanity, because the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has manifestly failed to do so.”
In particular the UN COI recommended that China and all states: “Respect the principle of non-refoulement and, accordingly, abstain from forcibly repatriating any persons to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and “that States, foundations and engaged business enterprises provide more support for the work of civil society organizations to improve the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including efforts to document human rights violations and to broadcast accessible information into each country.
Unlike prior administrations in South Korea, your administration took the unusual step to forcibly repatriate two North Koreans to conditions of danger and has not only ended all support but discouraged support for the civil society organizations that work to improve human rights in the DPRK and advocate for defectors in South Korea. The announcement in July by the Ministry of Unification that it would conduct office inspections of 25 North Korean human rights and resettlement civil society organizations and demand an additional 64 accredited non-governmental organizations submit documentation is a chilling form of intimidation as they were all clearly targeted simply for their North Korea human rights work.
We respectfully request, as Americans who have a great respect for the people of Korea, that you reconsider your policies and do not again forcibly repatriate North Koreans to conditions of danger and that you review your policy of intimidating and harassing North Korean human rights organizations and instead help support their efforts to promote human rights for North Koreans.
Among those signing the letter were:
Richard V. Allen, national security adviser for President Ronald Reagan and deputy national security adviser for President Richard Nixon
Roberta Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Department of State’s first human rights bureau for President Jimmy Carter
Ambassador Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for George W. Bush
Ambassador Robert R. King, Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights for President Barack Obama
Ambassador Winston Lord, Director of Policy Planning Staff at the State Department for President Gerald Ford and Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor for President Richard Nixon and Ambassador to China for President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush and Assistant Secretary of State for President Bill Clinton
Daniel Pipes, Policy Planning Staff for President Ronald Reagan
Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom during President Barack Obama’s administration
Christian Whiton, Senior Adviser for Strategic Communications for State Department for President Donald Trump and Deputy Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights for President George W. Bush
A full list of those who signed can be seen here