Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in <Media Choongcheong> on October 4, 2011 on violence and human rights abuse by police and navy in Gangjung village, creating a curfew-like lawless environment there. There have been complaints about police and navy acting like outlaws but, this time, their cruelty was captured and revealed through images and video footages. The original article (in Korean) can be located by a link at the bottom. All rights stay with the author of original article and <Media Choongcheong> and this post will be scrapped by their request accordingly. Also, supplementary video footages can be located as well at the bottom.
Civilian assault, reporter detention, humiliating verbal abuse …
Human rights abuse against civilians by navy and police surrounding Jeju naval base construction goes beyond limits.
Although violence to religious people and college students as well as humiliating verbal abuses to priests and reporters continues, countermeasures to curb them are unclear.
Demands to stop admistrative authority’s human rights violation showdown continue at Gangjung village as the authority’s violence to civilians goes beyond limit.
Violence to religious people, college students way beyond limits
“We should stop administrative authority’s meaningless human rights violation showdown”
Dr. Gang-ho Song, a religious person who swims across the Joongdeok sea in front of Gangjung village every morning to get to Goorumbi rock for pray was assaulted and threatened by navy SSU (ship salvage unit) members.
An SSU member locked his knees on both sides of Dr. Song and pushed Dr. Song’s head with his hands into sea for 20 ~ 30 seconds three times while Dr. Song was swimming in more than 10 meter deep sea. Also, he undid Dr. Song’s flippers and threw away Dr. Song’s camera to the sea to conceal his assault. [Ironically, Dr. Song later retrieved his camera and revealed the identify of the attacker in one of the pictures and the nature of assault in a video footage stored in the camera during a press conference.]
Police’s luke warm reaction to alleged assault charges was also criticized. Witnessing the assault by SSU, Jeong-ae Han, a colleague of Dr. Song, reported it to police but no action was taken immediately. In an interview with ‘special coverage team’, Seogwipo coast guard said “We cannot watch Gang-ho Song only. We have a lot of works to do. We cannot work for only one person.”
It is known that Dr. Song was also assaulted by SSU in October 4. At the press conference held at 1:30 PM on October 4 in Jeju provincial assembly building, Dr. Song claimed “Navy started to attack me directly today. Not isolated one or two incidents. They attacked me with fists countless times, struck my waists with knees, and kicked me with legs.” He criticized “Police and coast guard who sit on their hands on this circumstance are all accomplices.”
Some claimed that human rights violations had also taken place at the time when police had taken away 11 college students and 4 union workers of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction (totally 15 civilians) on last October 2. A senior of Hanyang University Mi-jeong Kim (fake id, female) experienced violence when she climbed fences around construction site at the sight of navy and police assaulting her friends who had climbed over fences to see Goorumbi rock around 7PM on October 2. At that time, she was taken to hospital experiencing breathing difficulty from choking.
Ms. Kim said “I asked police to let go of me while they were dragging me out but they acted as if to beat me.” She added, “When I passed out, police didn’t do anything. My friend called 119 and they arrived 30 minutes later.”
She also alleged, “I saw numerous incidents navy attacking men or beating men on their faces. Some dragged women to dark places without the presence of female officers. Also, navy assaulted people with their knees. They didn’t care if it was man or woman.”
Another victim Jin-soo Park (fake id, male), sophomore Kyounghee University, also said “They shoved us against fences and cursed us while twisting our arms and snatching our necks. Several were forced down to the ground and navy people whispered to us ‘I will kill you when I am done with my service’ or ‘Let’s go together if you want to see the (Goorumbi) rock’ while dragging us away.”
People pointed out problems during police investigation as well. Mr. Park said “Police didn’t tell us properly what our charges were or why we were taken away. In the second interrogation, they even cuffed us during interrogation and continued to ask a leading question if we admitted our crimes even without explaining to us why we were taken away.
This prompted Gangjung villagers and general countermeasures committee members to hold a press conference in October 4 afternoon and to denounce civilian assaults and human rights abuses by police and navy personnel. They claimed “Similar cases happen repeatedly because Ministry of National Defense does not perform proper fact finding investigation and punish those held responsible for and the level gets further intensified.” They then requested “Now, we should stop this meaningless human rights violation showdown.”
Police, verbally abused even catholic priests and reporters…
Police violence and curse are not even investigated
Even in October 4, it is known that police and navy verbally humiliated religious people who climbed over fences and stepped onto Goorumbi rock. Around 3:30PM on October 4, 8 priests and 1 monk climbed over fences and stepped onto Goorumbi rock but were taken away by police on charges of violating the Law on Assembly and Demonstration (LAD) and the obstruction of business. Jae-eun Chung, a Media Choongcheong reporter of <special coverage team> who accompanied them for onsite coverage was also taken away.
One of those under police custody revealed “Police mocked praying priests ‘Are you sleeping?’ and cursed ‘How come trespassers and intruders can be priests?'”
Also, he alleged “Although the reporter identified herself as a reporter, navy and police said ‘She’s not a reporter but an intruder. Only she calls herself a reporter. Just take her away.’ and stopped her from doing her story. They even wouldn’t let her use her cell phone.” To this allegation, police spared words but said “It needs investigation.”
Besides, leader of traffic team who was acting as chief of Seogwipo police then warned through public announcement “Violation of LAD would be punished by imprisonment for maximum 2 years” and someone from construction company followed suite by making another warning “Your presence itself is obstruction of business” right away. To this, one of those under police custody criticized “Nothing was going on where we were were at that time and we cannot understand why they rather followed us and made an obstruction of business warning announcement.”
Meanwhile, although administrative authority abuse by police and navy goes beyond limits, it is not punished properly. A Gangjung village activist Seong-soo Park criticized “Seogwipo police investigation team leader assaulted Mr. Yoon-mo Yang 5 months ago but this case has not been investigated at all since then even though we have evidence video footage. Contrary to civilians whose wrongdoings would be charged right away, their wrongdoings are not investigated at all but let time pass by and wait for them to die out.”
- Original article (in Korean) can be followed here: 제주해군기지 공사장, 경찰과 해군의 무법지대
- Video footages and images can be followed here (in <Hankyoreh>): “해군이 강정마을 주민 바다에 빠뜨리고 폭행”