Mr. Namgi Baek, a farmer, has been lying unconscious in a hospital bed in Seoul, after being brutally hit by a water cannon during a peasant protest on November 14, 2015. Over 200 days later, he is yet to receive justice.
Brother Baek was among the hundreds of peasants who assembled to protest for an increase in rice prices. During the protest and in the aftermath of the incident several hundred protestors, were arrested and summoned by the police. In continuation of the attack on peasants and working population, Mr. Sang-kyun Han, the president of KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) has been arrested and is facing up to 8-year imprisonment for organizing the protest.
Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur visited South Korea in January, 2016 pursuant to his mandate to assess the situation of freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in the country.
On June 18, Maina Kai presented this report at the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council. That report is available for download here.
Following Maina Kai, Ms. Minjuwha Beak, daughter of Brother Baek, also delivered a short speech before the UN Human Rights council, seeking justice for her father, for Mr. Sang-kyun Han and hundreds of peasants under various forms of attack. The full text of Ms. Minjuwha Baek’s speech is as follows;
Thank you, Mr. President.
My name is Minjuwha Baek, and I am the daughter of the 69 year-old farmer Namgi Baek in South Korea who was mentioned in the Special Rapporteur’s report. My father was targeted and knocked down by the police’s water cannon on 14 November last year during a protest for the increase in rice prices. He remains in coma for more than 200 days due to severe brain damage.
The Government imposed an arbitrary ban on the protest, claiming it was not an assembly but a crime. They named the protest unlawful and not peaceful even before it took place. The police arrested or summoned more than 500 protesters. This includes Mr. Sang-kyun Han, the president of KCTU, facing up to 8-year imprisonment for organizing the protest.
The police blocked main roads and streets with hundreds of bus barricades and thousands of police forces, even hours before the protest. The police shot water cannons with capsicine to protesters indiscriminately for hours.
No apology, No investigation, No justice.
The South Korean government insisted on having a thorough investigation. For 7 months, all they did was summoning my sister once. If you hit someone who is not attacking you, you should apologize and do everything to fix it. Every human being knows this.
We want a Sincere apology, Thorough investigation, and Justice for my family and for all.
Thank you. Mr. President.