Once again, the South Korean activists demonstrated “held a press conference” in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Seoul, in solidarity with the Egyptian political detainees.
I received the following report from Socialist activist Kim:
More than 40 people gathered in front of Egyptian embassy to have “press conference” for releasing of opposition figures and against the use of military tribunals to prosecute civilians. (In South Korea, the government doesn’t allow having a demonstration within 100m of any embassy. Some democracy, isn’t it?! So we usually do ‘press conference’, because we don’t need to get authorization for press conference.)
Around 10 organizations joined this campaign in such a short notice, some of them already had participated 2005 and 2006 “press conferences,” but some are new to this campaign.
The list of the organizations include: All Together, Catholic Human Rights Commission, Citizen’s Solidarity for Human Rights (CSHR), Friends of Asia, Korean Democratic Labor Party (KDLP), Imagination for International Solidarity, Lawyers for Democratic Society International Solidarity Commission, National Association of Professors for Democratic Society, People’s Solidarity for Social Progress.
As you can guess from names of organizations, very different type – ideologically and organizationally. Still, they came together to show their solidarity to Egyptian movement. I think we benefited from legacy of anti-dictatorship struggles in the past.
Speeches were strong. There were 3 speakers, KDLP, CSHR, and All Together.
Here are some quotes from speeches:
KIM EUM JIN (a senior member of the Korean Democratic Labor Party): Mubarak is Egyptian version of President ‘Park Jung Hee’. South Korea also had a difficult and dark past under military dictatorship 1970s and 80s.
I went to the Cairo International Anti-War Conference at last March. I saw many determined pro-democracy activists. They reminded me of many brave pro-democracy activists of South Korea. Having seen their determination, I realized that the days of the Mubarak regime are numbered. Egyptian workers are struggling against privatization, poverty and exploitation. Peasants are fighting for their land, and the Muslim Brothers are fighting for democratic rights.
The Korean Democratic Labor Party is one of outcomes of long and hard democratic struggles in South Korea. Therefore, we’ll keep send our solidarity to pro-democracy fighters.
OH CHANG IK (an executive officer of Citizen’s Solidarity for Human Rights): Why shouldn’t civilians stand in military tribunals? Answer is very obvious. Think about the past experience in the 1970s, the Democratic National Revolutionary Party members had gone through the first instance, the second instance, and final verdict within a year. Judicial proceedings were proceeded just like military operations under military tribunals. Civilians have rights to have certain legal protection.
I want to say to Egyptian embassy officials, who refuse to accept our statement. After bring down the Mubarak regime by their own hands, the Egyptian people will ask them, ‘what did you do in the embassy? Did you try to deliver what people around world think about the Mubarak regime to the Mubarak government when it oppresses its own people? Or you just spend whole time to promote yourself?’ You should ashamed of yourselves.”
KIM YONG WOOK (Journalist with All Together): I heard the Egyptian government has a seat now in the UN Commission on Human Rights. Well, this says much about the nature of UN. But what is really going on in Egypt? Does the Egyptian government respect its people’s human rights? NO! This government keeps trying to civilians in military tribunals. The State Security police tortured young college student for 13 hours just because he tried to protect his family from abuse of security police who had arrested his father. And they also tortured a Muslim Brotherhood member for a week, so he lost his hearing. Mubarak might have justified these atrocities quoting anti-terrorism clauses in the ‘new’ constitution. But who is a real terrorist, the Muslim Brothers who peacefully express their political views? Or Mubarak regime who tortured the innocent young student? Mubarak is afraid of his own people, because he knows his grip on power is very shaky. His biggest fear is the coming together of pro-democracy movement like Kifaya who is successfully breaking down the political iron wall of dictatorship, working class movement which has showed potential power and the greatest militancy since WW2, and peasants’ movement whose affection to their land is greater and more meaningful than Mubarak’s greed to power. So Mubarak wants to scare the people by military tribunals and arresting an opposition party chairman like Ayman Nour. But Egyptian people will not be easily scared, they are still fighting. We, the South Korean people and progressive movement, have had similar experience. So it’s our duty to support Egyptian people’s movement.
Your solidarity message got huge applauds! People were moved by your message.
AND then we tried to deliver our statement [I attached it] to Egyptian ambassador, but he refused to accept it. I talked with the ambassador’s first secretary last Friday, and he provide me option, which is, whether we have an interview with him and drop the whole idea about the press conference, or have a press conference and no interview. Well, I don’t accept the option. And he had very high-handed manner. Any way, we sent the statement by fax.
Even though number of participants weren’t many [because of lack of preparation time], I think mood of press conference was quite lively as you can see from some pictures. And it will be a stepping stones to future campaign.
Like you said in message, let’s keep fighting together!
What can I say? The South Korean shabab TOTALLY ROCK!