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Free Prisoners Of Conscience In South Korea

Above photo: Protesters outside the White House, May 18, 2016.

Washington, DC – A delegation of three women are currently visiting the United States as representatives of a coalition of social justice and labor organizations called the Corean* Alliance for Independent Reunification and Democracy (CAIRD) on a peace expedition. They are educating activists in the US about the serious situation in the Republic of Korea for social justice activists.

The government of President Park Geun-hye is using the National Security Law in an extreme way to ban protests and arrest activists. For example, simply speaking positively about North Korea is a crime punishable with seven years in prison. In December, 2014, at the request of the government, the Constitutional Court of Korea banned the Unified Progressive Party, which was founded as a coalition party in 2011, because of its position calling for peace and reunification with North Korea.

Activists who participated in peaceful demonstrations last year are currently in jail or are facing imprisonment. They are considered to be prisoners of conscience by CAIRD members. One activist in particular, Kim Hye-young, needs support from people in the US.



kim_hye-youngKim Hye-young was arrested on July 26, 2015 for participating in a sit-in during a peaceful demonstration in Seoul.

In January 2016 she was sentenced using the National Security Law to two years in prison and sent to the Seoul Detention Center. She appealed the decision.

On May 26, 2016, Kim’s appeal was denied. She went on an open-ended hunger strike to protest the denial.

Kim has thyroid cancer and has suffered panic attacks in prison. She has not received appropriate medical treatment. She is being held in a 71 square foot cell with two other inmates.

Amnesty International is also calling for her release.

It is important for people in the United States to join in solidarity with activists in South Korea because the US has a long history of intervention in Korean affairs, which continues today. The US first invaded Korea in the late 1800s. It was the US and other Western powers that arbitrarily divided Korea into North and South in the 1940s. The US seized power over South Korea and put Syngman Rhee in as the leader. When pro-democracy activists went on strike to protest US intervention, the US military brutally suppressed them. Rhee, a Korean exile who lived in the US for 40 years, was responsible for the assassination of democracy leaders.

Click here and here to read more about US intervention in the Koreas.

CAIRD is calling for:

1. US troops to leave South Korea.

2. The end of military exercises against North Korea, which terrify people in South Korea.

3. A declaration of peace between the US and North Korea to finally end the Korean War.

4. The resignation of President Park Geun-hye, the daughter of dictator General Park Chung-hee.

5. Discussion of reunification with North Korea.

Please show your support for CAIRD by signing and sharing this petition.

*Corea is the way that Korea was spelled before Western powers intervened and divided it.

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