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GPPAC Northeast Asia Statement for Peace on the Korean Peninsula

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment

In response to the recent North Korean attacks on Yeonpyong-Do Island in South Korea along the NLL, the Northeast Asian network of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) issued a public statement.

GPPAC Northeast Asia Statement for Peace on the Korean Peninsula

We, the undersigned members of civil society organizations, are shocked at the artillery exchange between North and South Korea on November 23, 2010, that caused the tragic killing of and injuries to the people of Yeonpyeng Island. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives and to the communities affected. We categorically condemn the attack that caused the tragedy, no matter what background there might be for the respective governments.

We are also gravely concerned about the developments after the incident. The tension caused through military activities and provocative behavior among policy makers and even the public is growing. While we understand the emotions behind these reactions, an escalation of tension would only lead to further violence and confrontations. We must ease tensions, and work together to find creative, peaceful solutions. Dialogue is the only way to proceed. The people of Northeast Asia should be united in calling for peace.

We hereby call on all the governments and people concerned to commit to the following:

1. Stop military activities now. A ceasefire must be declared by North and South Korea immediately. Military exercises in and around the area are counterproductive and should be stopped. All the parties must refrain from any acts that increase tension in the region.

2. Work to start dialogue. The governments of North and South Korea must arrange diplomatic talks as soon as possible, and other governments should work to make such talks a success. Regional dialogue should also be pursued, including an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

3. Investigate the incident. Attention should be paid to the fact that the area of this incident has long been disputed between North and South Korea. All the parties should therefore have fully refrained from provocation and military actions. International investigation needs to be carried out to clarify exactly what happened.

4. Do not start an arms race. No government should use this event as an excuse for military build-up or an increase of military expenditure. Build-up of military capability would not prevent conflicts, but rather trigger an arms race. An arms race would not only deprive the people in need of their limited resources, but also risk additional confrontations. Regional cooperative disarmament measures and security arrangements should instead be developed.

5. Create and expand Demilitarized Zones. We call on the governments of North and South Korea to work to establish a Peace and Cooperation Zone in the West Sea/Yellow Sea as agreed in the Joint Statement of the North-South Summit of October 4, 2007, with a view to preventing conflicts in the area. We further call for the creation and expansion of Demilitarized Zones (DMZs) in other disputed areas in the region. In such zones, military activities, including exercises, should be prohibited, and confidence-building measures such as dialogue and transparency programs should be implemented.

6. Civil society has a critical role to play. Civil society actors such as NGOs, academic institutions and the media can play a critical role to facilitate the processes outlined above. Governments should allow and encourage them to play their legitimate roles. The media has a special responsibility to refrain from any provocation. Rather, the media should promote a balanced analysis and facilitate dialogue.

This tragic incident reminded us of the fact that our region is still divided and suffering from the remnants of the Cold War. More than half a century since the armistice was declared in the Korean War, a peace regime needs to be realized on the Korean Peninsula, along with a peace mechanism in Northeast Asia as a whole. Recalling the North-South Declarations of June 15, 2000, and October 4, 2007, and the Joint Statement of Six-Party Talks of September 19, 2005, we call on the governments concerned to make further efforts, and reaffirm our commitment to strive to achieve these goals.

December 2, 2010

Initial Signatories:

ANDO Hiroshi, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Tokyo

HUANG Haoming, China Association for NGO Cooperation, Beijing

HSU Szu-chien, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei Meri

JOYCE, GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Liaison Officer, Tokyo

JUNG Gyung-Lan, Women Making Peace, Seoul

KAWASAKI Akira, Peace Boat, Tokyo Anton

KOSTYUK, Maritime State University, Vladivostok

LEE Jae Young, Korea Anabaptist Center / Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, Seoul

LEE Taeho, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), Seoul

Kathy R. MATSUI, Hague Appeal for Peace Global Campaign for Peace Education, Tokyo

SASAMOTO Jun, Japan International Lawyers Solidarity Association (JALISA), Tokyo

SHEN Dingli, Fudan University, Shanghai

YI Kiho, Hanshin University, Seoul

YOSHIOKA Tatsuya, GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Initiator / Peace Boat, Tokyo

*This statement was drafted and initially signed by the members and affiliates of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Northeast Asia Regional Steering Group, and made open for endorsements. *Affiliations are for identification purposes only.

Endorsers: (To be added)

Contact: GPPAC Northeast Asia Regional Secretariat c/o Peace Boat 3-13-1 B1 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075 Phone +81-3-3363-8047 Fax +81-3-3363-7562 KAWASAKI Akira kawasaki@peaceboat.gr.jp Meri JOYCE meri@peaceboat.gr.jp

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Amnesty International Public Statement: NHRCK must uphold independence and credibility

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment

On November 29, 2010 Amnesty International-Korea released a public statement regarding the National Human Rights Commission Korea. The statement notes Amnesty’s concerned about the independence and credibility of the Human Rights Commission.

Thanks to Amnesty International HRM was able to attain a English translation of the public statement. PDF file version can be found at the end of the post.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT

AI Index: ASA 25/001/2010

29 November 2010

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea must uphold its independence and ensure credibility

As the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) enters its 10th year, Amnesty International calls on it to uphold its autonomy and ensure it remains effective and credible.

Amnesty International believes that national human rights institutions can play a key role in the protection and promotion of human rights. To fulfil this role it is vital they are independent, fully empowered and enjoy the trust and confidence of civil society, particularly the local human rights community.

Amnesty International notes with concern the resignation on 1 November of two standing Commissioners of the NHRCK, Mr Yu Nam-young and Ms Mun Kyung-ran followed by the resignation on 10 November of a non-standing Commissioner, Professor Cho Kuk and the resignations on 15 November of 61 out of the 160 experts and consultants appointed by the NHRCK including the specialised committee, the advisory organ and the conciliation committee.

The Commissioners resigned to register their opposition to a proposed draft amendment to the NHRCK’s managerial regulations submitted to its Plenary Committee on 25 October. The amendment would restrict the power of the Commissioners while enhancing that of the Chairperson.

Chairperson Professor Hyun Byung-chul is regarded by some in South Korea as overly defensive of government policies. He has expressed the views that the NHRCK is part of the government. Under his leadership since 2009 the NHRCK has remained silent or failed to act decisively on some key human rights issues such as the police handling of the Yongsan forced eviction in January 2009, the investigation methods of the prosecution service and the Constitutional Court’s 2009 deliberations on the constitutionality of a ban on night-time demonstrations. The NHRCK has also remained silent on issues including: police and prosecutors’ controversial investigations of the TV Broadcaster MBC’s programme PD Notebook for “spreading false rumours” on US beef imports; and the authorities surveillance of Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in May 2010 during his official mission to South Korea.

Since the establishment of the NHRCK, Amnesty International has repeatedly addressed threats to the independence and effectiveness of the body. One such threat is the method of selection and appointment whereby the President of South Korea directly nominates some Commissioners. Amnesty International believes that all members of the NHRCK must be selected fairly and transparently in such a manner as to afford all necessary guarantees of independence of those appointed. Amnesty International is concerned that recent appointments of NHRCK Standing Commissioners, appear to have been politically motivated.   In order to remain independent, credible and effective it is essential that the NHRCK consists of men and women known for their integrity and impartiality of judgment who decide matters before them on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences from any quarter or for any reason, for example, allegiances to political parties, or strong links with the executive part of the government.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the NHRCK’s silence on significant human rights issues in South Korea, resignations of Commissioners and experts, appointments that appear politically motivated and the proposed amendment to its managerial regulations all indicate that the NHRCK may be losing its independence and authority, and risks losing the trust of South Korean civil society, particularly its human rights community.

As the NHRCK enters its 10th year, Amnesty International urges the NHRCK leadership and the South Korean government to ensure that this crisis faced by the NHRCK is resolved transparently, in consultation with civil society, in particular the South Korean human rights community. Every effort should be made to ensure that the NHRCK resumes its role as an independent, effective and credible national human rights institution.

ENDS/

Public Document

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK www.amnesty.org

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PDF File: Amnesty International_NHRCK_PublicStatement