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Archive for August, 2011

#SouthKorean Activist Arrested at #ICAAP10 from rishita nandagiri on Vimeo.

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ICAAP 10

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We are appalled at the failure of the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific, the Local Organising Committee and the UN in predicting, preventing and effectively intervening in the violence that took place on the 27th of August 2011. We note that the UN has yet to make any public statement about the police violence on the first day of ICAAP.

While there have been apologies and assurances regarding the safety and security of South Korean participants of ICAAP, reports continue to circulate of potential civil and criminal action including charges for alleged damages to the Bexco and PCO. In the case of at least one person, the criminal case seems to still be pending and there is no assurance by the police to this person that the case will be dropped. The fact that meetings with the Busan police and Bexco security were held without us, despite the commitment to do so has made us question the commitment and sincerity of the Conference organizers in responding to the police violence.

Given these actions, we cannot help but view the assurances given so far as a stalling tactic and that Korean activists may face harassment and police action once international delegates have left ICAAP.

We have here five demands for the organisers to address the grievous consequences of their failure to predict, prevent and intervene effectively in the violence.

  1. Assurance that the security, the police, Bexco and ICAAP organisers will be made to destroy all the photos and footage including CCTV footage and identifying personal information like social security numbers and addresses that they have collected and a direction to them to maintain confidentiality under all circumstances.

  2. A direction shall be given to the police to cease and desist from all threats of civil and criminal actions against individual activists and using the said threat as an excuse, knowingly or unknowingly, to disclose the marginalized status of individuals.

  3. In the absence of any anti-discrimination law, an assurance that none of the participants of ICAAP will be discriminated against or harassed by the police or Bexco or any other authority.

  4. An independent investigation such as by the National Human Rights Commission into the persons within Bexco security and the police who are responsible for the incidents of violence and human rights violations and under what authority or whose directions the actions were taken.

  5. Ensure the safety and personal security of all participants of ICAAP during and after ICAAP.

We call on Myung-Hwan Cho, Chair ICAAP10 LOC, Zahid Hussein, President of ASAP and representatives of the UN and Global Fund to come forward right now, in this room and assure us that they will pursue these five specific demands with all their energy and provide their personal guarantees of the personal safety and security of our South Korean friends and colleagues.

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On 27 August 2011, during a peaceful protest against Free Trade Agreements (FTA) inside the ICAAP conference site, Korean and international participants were subject violent abuse at the hands of the South Korean police.

During the FTA protest, some community members noticed plainclothes security inside the venue taking pictures of them. The conference participants challenged one of those security officers and demanded to know what he was doing, and that he erase the photos. An argument ensued, and tempers flared. The officer, who was only later identified as a police officer, refused to tell conference participants why he was taking their pictures without permission, and failed to identify himself as a police officer.

When conference participants tried to protect their fellow community members from being dragged away by the initial small group of police, more security personnel arrived and used increasing levels of force against them. After a violent struggle and the intervention of international conference participants, the plainclothes security retreated outside, but moments later joined uniformed police and tried to violently remove and arrest a number of Korean activists who had participated in the protest. In the chaos, only one person was forced into a police car, a young Korean public interest lawyer, Suh Yeon Chang, who works with the Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group GONG-GAM.

After her release, Chang said the police did not inform her of the reason for the arrest, which is illegal according to the South Korean criminal law. Even after reaching the police station, Chang said, the police refused to inform her of the reason for the arrest.

More than 100 conference participants (including people living with HIV (PLHIV), sex workers, drug users and transgenders) surrounded and lay down in front of the police car to stop the police car. During an hourlong standoff, dozens of conference participants were physically abused by police and security staff. Several women and transgendered women were dragged by police and in by these violent police actions, and their clothes were ripped. Finally, riot police arrived and, using even more violence, dragged and beat conference participants until the police car containing the lawyer could leave.

As a result of the police violence, three people were taken to hospital and at least a dozen more were injured, including many PLHIV. Though the lawyer was later released without being charged, the police also went to the hospital and threatened at least one of those hospitalized with criminal charges. Repeated questions as to why both the lawyer and the activists were being arrested went unanswered, and no charges have been filed.

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