Home > Freedom of Expression, Rule of Law > Amnesty International Report 2010 on South Korea: “Silence on the Streets Does Not Mean Peace”

Amnesty International Report 2010 on South Korea: “Silence on the Streets Does Not Mean Peace”

Tues, June 8

Ji-Su Park

On May 27th, Amnesty International (AI) released their annual 2010 report revealing situations of human rights abuses in 159 countries, including serious problems of human rights violations prevalent in South Korea throughout 2009.

Amnesty International in South Korea (AI Korea) held a conference at the Korea Press Center in Seoul to discuss the 2010 International Report and the organization’s official stance on several controversial events in Korea today.

In specific, the South Korean government was criticized for violating freedom of expression in an attempt to control the media and use fear in politics with regards to the deadly sinking of Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship believed to be an act of a North Korean torpedo.

Regarding the teachers of Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union facing mass dismissal for joining the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), an opposing political party, AI said that the government is excessively violating the freedom of political participation, assembly, and expression.  The ministry has decided to dismiss a total of 134 public school teachers for having paid membership fees to DLP.  With the G-20 Summit scheduled to be held in Seoul this coming November, the government seems to be restricting rights and freedoms even more by passing the G-20 martial law.

Nam Young-jin, the chairman of AI Korea, wrote in the chair’s report, “Some words that were often used back in the 1980s such as ‘freedom of the press,’ ‘freedom of expression,’ ‘dictatorship and democracy,’ and ‘national security and military on alert at the border’ are being used again in South Korea today.”  Nam clearly pointed out that South Korea’s human rights situation has gone backwards.

The report is in accord with the criticisms made by Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression who visited South Korea on May 14 to investigate human rights conditions.  AI Korea warns the government, stating that “silence on the streets does not mean peace.”  ■

Specific problems in South Korea mentioned in the Report

  • Foreign migrant workers who are vulnerable to unfair treatment, discrimination, sexual harassment, and abuse as a result of the current Employment Permit System (EPS)
  • Blogger Park Dae-sung or “Minerva” arrested and accused of spreading malicious rumors to destabilize the economy
  • Four producers and a writer at Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) accused of distorting facts regarding the dangers of US beef in the television program PD Notebook and thus stimulating the candlelight protests against US beef imports
  • Arbitrary arrests and detentions under the National Security Law (NSL)
  • The death penalty
  • The downsized National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK)
  • Low recognition of state recognition of refugees and asylum-seekers
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