Democracy in South Korea is under attack. The ruling Saenuri Party of President Park Geun-hye and the National Intelligence Service have launched a witch hunt to purge progressive voices from the political process.
On August 28, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), formerly known as the Korean CIA, raided the offices and homes of the Unified Progressive Party, which holds six seats in South Korea’s National Assembly. Three members were arrested during the raids, and lawmaker Lee Seok-ki was later stripped of immunity and placed under arrest.
The NIS charged that members of the Unified Progressive Party were plotting rebellion, aiming to take up arms against the government in the event of war with North Korea. The sole evidence for these outlandish claims was a transcript said to be taken from a surreptitious filming by an informer of two meetings held by the Unified Progressive Party in May.
Those arrested say that the NIS fabricated the words that it attributed to them, and an internal investigation by the Unified Progressive Party affirmed that the transcript excerpts the NIS leaked to the press did not correspond to what participants in the meetings heard being said.
The NIS, like its predecessor, the KCIA, has a long history of inventing and manipulating evidence in order to achieve its political aims. In the last Korean election, it manipulated a transcript from former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun’s meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The changes made it appear that Roh intended to turn over South Korean territorial waters to the north. The intent was to paint the liberal and left opposition parties as disloyal and provide a boost to the campaigns of candidates belonging to the ruling party.
The NIS is once again fabricating evidence, this time in order to remove the Unified Progressive Party from the national scene. Lee-Seok-ki and others face the
prospect of imprisonment, and the NIS is considering adding the charge of aiding the enemy, which carries with it a potential death penalty.
The Unified Progressive Party spearheaded the ever-growing national protests against abuses by the NIS. Outrage has been mounting over interference by the NIS in the electoral process, and harassment and investigations against individuals for their politics, such as opponents of the Korean Free Trade Agreement. Protests increased in size and militancy, spreading throughout the nation.
The National Security Law, a remnant from the Japanese colonial period and the anti-communist Syngman Rhee regime in the years following the Second World War, is still in effect, and essentially makes it a crime to express thoughts that can be construed as “pro-North” or “pro-communist.” When liberally interpreted, it has often been used to suppress dissent.
The National Security Law is the weapon of choice for the NIS. Clearly, the attack on the party aims to crush the calls to reform the NIS and provide bogus justification for its continued involvement in domestic affairs.
The ruling Saenuri Party is calling for Lee Seok-ki to be removed from office, even though he has yet to be tried, let alone convicted. The Ministry of Justice has created a taskforce to look into responding to petitions by conservative groups to file a request with the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Unified Progressive Party.
The South Korean people suffered under many years of dictatorship and military rule. They won a hard-fought victory to bring democracy to their nation. The McCarthyist tactics of the Saenuri Party and the NIS threaten to undo that achievement. They cannot be allowed to destroy South Korea’s democracy.
We, the undersigned, demand the Park Geun-hye administration-
- Free Lee Seok-ki and other members of the Unified Progressive Party arrested under false charges.
- Free members of the Beomminryeon unification organization, arrested in a raid by the NIS in June.
- Halt the effort to remove Lee Seok-ki from office.
- Stop the move to dissolve the Unified Progressive Party.
- Abolish the National Security Law, instrument of repression.
- Ban the National Intelligence Service from engaging in domestic surveillance and investigation of citizens.
- Bring to justice those in the NIS who were responsible for interfering in the last election and in fabricating evidence.
- Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston MA
- James V. Albertini, President, Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action, Ola’a (Kurtistown), Hawaii
- David K. Armiak, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsins
- Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition, Washington, DC
- William Blum, Author, “America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else,” Washington, DC
- Nile Bowie, International Movement for a Just World, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Steven Brion-Meisels, Ph.D., Board of Directors, Massachusetts Peace Action, Boston MA
- Christine Ahn, Board Member, Korea Policy Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa; Editor and Director, Center for Research on Globalization, Montreal Canada
- SaeHee Chun, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, Fairfax, Virginia
- Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr., Co-Director, Center for Process Studies, Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA
- Jane Cutter, Website Editor, Party for Socialism and Liberation
- Suzanne Majo De Kuyper, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
- Gregory Elich, Jasenovac Research Institute and Korea Policy Institute, Columbus, Ohio
- Pejmann Fallah, Columbus Ohio
- Henri Feron, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (PRC)
- Bernice Fischer, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Peninsula Chapter, Palo Alto, CA
- Bill Fletcher, Labor activist and journalist, Washington D.C.
- Sara Flounders, Co-Director, International Action Center, New York NY
- Margaret Flowers, MD, PopularResistance.org, Baltimore, MD
- Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
- Joy Lee Powell Gebhard, Washington, DC
- Mike Gimbel, Retired Executive Board member, Local 375, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
- Paul Gottinger, Editor, The White Rose Reader, Madison, WI
- Rev. S. Michael Hahm, New York, NY
- Herbert J. Hoffman, Veterans for Peace, Albuquerque, NM
- Christine Hong, Professor of UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
- Joon Ki Hyun, Los Angeles, CA
- Ron Jacobs, Writer, Burlington VT
- Milina Jovanovic, Sunnyvale, CA
- June Kelly, People Against War Network, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland
- Daniel Kim, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, New York City, NY
- Haeyoung Kim, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Sang Eui Kim, Los Angeles California
- Soobok Kim, Closter, NJ
- David Laibman, Science & Society, New York, NY
- Judith Leblanc, Peace Action, Silver Spring, Maryland
- Ramsay Liem, Channing and Popai Liem Education Foundation, Brookline, MA and Berkeley, CA
- Louise Morris, Edgehill United Methodist Church (Former missionary to South Korea), Nashville, TN
- Sean Mulligan, Johns Creek, Georgia
- Michael Munk, Portland, OR
- Leah Obias, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, New York, NY
- Andrew S. Park, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Ethics, United Theological Seminary, Dayton Korean American United Methodist Church, Dayton OH
- Andrew Kisik Park, Boston, MA
- Tim Shorrock, Author, “Spies for Hire – The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing,” Washington, D.C.
- Jack A. Smith, Editor, Activist Newsletter, Hudson Valley, New York
- Mark Stansbery, Community Organizing Center, Columbus, Ohio
- Dr. Harold Sunoo, Los Angeles, CA
- JT Takagi, National Campaign to End the Korean War, New York, NY
- Walter Trkla, Kamloops British Columbia, Canada
- Chela Vazquez, Oakland CA
- Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, United States
- Helena Wong, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, New York, NY
- Renie Wong Lindley, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Honolulu, HI
- Rev. Kil Sang Yoon, Director, Korea Project, Center for Process Studies, Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA
- Kevin Zeese, JD, PopularResistance.org, Baltimore, MD