Benjamin Monnet story

On Mar. 13, three activists (Seri Kim, Angie Zelter, Benjamin Monnet) were taken away by police at the naval base construction site in Gangjung, Jeju, South Korea. Police tried to press charges against them and deport two foreign activists (Angie Zelter and Benjamin Monnet) back to their own countries. However, to avoid international controversy, the authority released two foreign activists. They did nothing to Angie Zelter, a nobel peace prize candidate, who will be leaving soon anyway due to the visa issue. But, instead of freeing Benjamin Monnet, the authority charged the French peace activist for 5 crimes and kicked out of South Korea even without any formal judicial procedure. His last known whereabout was at Hongkong just before boarding a plane back to his home country France in Mar. 14 late at night.

Seri Kim, a Korean peace activist who was charged along with Bejamin the same day but was released from detention by court’s decline of issuing arrest warrant, was infuriated by the scheme Korean government flexed on Benjamin Monnet and retorted the whole story about Benjamin Monnet in her twits.

During an interview with my lawyer the day before yesterday, I heard crimes they put on me and Benjamin. But, crimes police put on Benjamin were really flabbergasting! They charged him for something he had not done. I know it all because I saw with my eyes on the site. Simply put, Benjamin is forcibly deported out of Korea under wrongful charges!

[1] Wrongful charges police put on Benjamin were 5. I will recount them one by one. (1) ‘Obstruction of Justice’ On Feb. 27, about 200 combat police from main land stormed Gangjung port, illegally occupying it, blocking people from kayaking to the sea and trying to rob private property. Police charged Benjamin for assaulting 3 policemen that day.

[2] Without raising any reasons, police acted violently to activists who tried to sail out kayaks to the sea and fierce scuffle broke out. Benjamin at the scene were trying to save a female activist who fell to the ground and fell to the ground himself during that course. But police kept pushing people and Benjamin on the ground was stepped and battered. He eventually passed away.

[3] People cried out desperately Benjamin was on the ground but police wouldn’t budge a bit. They seemed to care more about kayaks than people’s safety; they didn’t even call an emergency ambulance. That day, Benjamin was stepped on his face and bruised all over his body but police instead falsely charged him for assaulting combat police.

[4] (2) ‘Public Property Damage’ Police charged Benjamin for throwing away police radio to the sea. What a preposterous charge it is! On Feb. 27, a member of mainland combat police dropped a radio to the port sea during the scuffle against activists. Benjamin picked it up from the sea and handed it

[5] over to the head of Gangjung village. I saw it with my eyes. Benajmin never threw the radio to the sea. (Video footage can prove it!) (3) ‘Injuring a person’ Police charged Banjamin for assaulting Daelim workers on Mar. 12. OMG! That day, I tried to sneak into the construction site through iron fence

[6] to take pictures of damaged Kurumbi rock and, on the site of me, bulky Daelim workers tried to violently stop me and assaulted me. Benjamin, seeing the incident outside of the fence, came into the site to save me and pulled two workers out of me. During the scuffle, his small finger

[7] accidentally brushed an eye of a worker slightly but it was not intentional. Video footage will prove it. In that day, Benjamin was also fell by workers’ physical contact and got hurt requiring full 2 weeks for recovery but he did not press charges on them.

[8] (4) ‘Obstruction of business’ On Mar. 12, Benjamin did not obstruct business; rather, he just tried to save me from being assaulted by workers. Spooked by policemen and workers storming at us, we escaped to the top of an excavator, a safe zone. There, Benjamin

[9] just demanded police to bring those assaulting workers before us and, since the assault fact was obvious, to investigate the particulars of those workers assaulted us. But not showing any interest to catch those workers assaulted us, police just idled time and simply ordered Benjamin to come down.

[10] If we came down at that moment, it was obvious that we would be taken away immediately. As usual, in a situation where those assaulted would be gone and only those being battered would be investigated and charged, who would follow the order. One cannot claim our act of climbing up the excavator as an obstruction of business; rather it should be considered as an act of minimum self-help in an emergency situation.

[11] (5) ‘Trespassing’ This is also due to entering Kurumbi rock over iron fence on Mar. 12. But Kurumbi rock is still a public water surface where Jeju Governor who has the formal jurisdiction never designated as a restricted area. And because of the unlawful and error-stricken naval base construction, Jeju Governor

[12] already sent a preliminary notification for suspending public surface water reclamation work and official letter asking suspension of construction to Ministry of National Defense. Currently, over 100 people have been prosecuted for trespassing misdemeanor and we are planning to file a civil lawsuit against construction company and police about whether it is possible to prosecute someone for trespassing when (s)he enters a public water surface area. We think it deserves judicial consideration.

Besides these twits, Seri Kim also mentioned Korean government’s brutality in handling Benjamin Monnet.

1) Yesterday’s ‘forced deportation of Benjamin’ incident by MB administration is more serious than the forced deportation of emigrant workers’ union leader using a severe method violating human rights a few years ago. For the first time in history, Korean government forcibly deported a foreigner less than 24 hours from the ‘forced eviction order.’

2) For Benjamin’s forced deportation, Lawyers for Democratic Society immediately submitted a formal objection against forced deportation and was on its way to file a lawsuit. When a formal objection is submitted, 7 days are usually allowed for review. However, Korean immigration office kicked him out secretly as if they were doing some kind of military operation just several hours before the lawsuit filing procedure would be over.

3) When the emigrant workers union leader was deported last time, she was at least able to call her lawyers and her acquaintances at Incheon International Airport. But this time, it was different; for Benjamin, they never allowed any local phone calls. He was forced to get on an airplane to Hongkong empty handedly. Without any luggage or a change of clothes but with his pet left behind in Gangjung Jeju.

4) Although objection lawsuit against forced deportation of Benjamin was on its way and a lawyer in charge of the case was already designated, Korean immigration office did not notify the lawyer in charge after forcibly deporting Benjamin at 7PM; rather they notified the fact 10AM the next day after a long while.

5) South Korea MB government, a regime that does not allow time for objection lawsuit, the minimum safety net for human rights protection, against a wrongful forced deportation order on a foreigner. A shameful regime that does not have guts to figure out rights and wrongs democratically and just tries to physically kick out a foreigner anyhow.

Right now, Lawyers for Democratic Society is preparing a petition asking for the intervention of ‘Special Rapporteur of Human Rights Defender’, one of the organizations of UN Board of Directors for the anti-human rights nature of the ‘forced deportation of Benjamin’ incident.

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