Home > Freedom of Expression, Racial Discrimination > Reflection: Security Preparations for Seoul G20 Summit: Protective Measures or Infringement on Human Rights?

Reflection: Security Preparations for Seoul G20 Summit: Protective Measures or Infringement on Human Rights?

By: Soo Yon Suh

South Korea officially held the 2010 G20 Summit in its capital, Seoul, from November 11-12. This was the fifth meeting of the G20 heads of government to continue its discussion of the global financial system and the world economy. The Seoul G20 Summit holds a significant meeting for the host country as it will be the first non-G8 nation to host the event. The theme of the Seoul summit is “Shared Growth Beyond Crisis.”

The summit became a hot topic of conversation for its significance in South Korea taking a bold leap in leadership in the international arena; domestically the G20 summit stirred a lot of criticism. As the G20 summit was a forum that gathered world leaders into Seoul, it was necessary for security to be top notch. Within this context the South Korean government indicated that it will put up a 2.2 meter high protective blockade around the G20 convention hall. Buses were rerouted and streets were blocked off to restrict civillian entry into the vacinity of the convention hall. It was also notified that trains will not be stopping at SamSeong Station, where the convention hall is located, during the two days of the event. The Korean police authorities are stating that the measures are taken to protect the well being of the leaders participating in the summit.

Many criticized this protective measure as a second “Myung Bak Fortress”, reflecting on the 2008 container blockade the government set up to resist the candlelight vigil regarding the U.S. beef issue.

According to an interview conducted by Kyunghyang Newspaper of a police authority, the officer indicated “I am aware that even at the G20 summit held last June in Toronto, Canada there was a 3 meter high metal wire fence placed up.”

One can’t help but question whether this is an infringement on citizen’s human rights. With the precedence of the container blockade installed during the candlelight vigils in 2008 by the Korean government, justification by comparing other country’s actions won’t cut it. In addition to the barricades, the Korean government placed many questionable regulations on the country during the summit that triggered the human rights infringement alarm. For example, many protests permits were rejected by the city of Seoul claiming that the possibility leaders passing through the area exists. There were reports that known foreign protesters of the G20 were identified and were detained and returned back to their point of departure at the airport.

The most impacted by the G20 regulations would be the underpriviledged. Many homeless and street vendors that depend on their days earnings to get by have been chased out of streets causing social unrest. In addition, there was a large scale crack down on illegal migrant workers deporting all those with expired visas. The list is endless, it was also indicated that there were forms of racial profiling stopping and searching those of Middle Eastern decent in the name of terror prevention measure.

Many human rights activists in the country criticize these actions as infringements on the citizen’s basic human rights. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of travel to name a few were clearly infringed.

The South Korean government patted themselves on the back for a successful and smooth end to the G20 summit. However, the efforts of the government to safe face and covering up their social issues posed more suspicision and questions about the state of the countries human rights.

Sources:

http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=201009152201445&code=940100 http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/view/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0001446866 http://www.sisainlive.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=8850 http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=201011052143415&code=940702 http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/10/119_70762.html http://www.sisainlive.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=8850

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