We denounce the violent crackdown on the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade!

The civil society and LGBTI rights movement in South Korea stand with the LGBTI rights movement in Turkey!

On June 28, when LGBTI pride parades were being held lavishly in places worldwide including Seoul to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, LGBTI people in Turkey were faced with brutal police violence. The government of Istanbul Province banned the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade, scheduled to take place on Taksim Square, only a few hours before without legitimate reasons, and the police violently dispersed the crowds that had gathered on Taksim Square to take part in the parade by using water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Many people were injured.

Citing that it was the Ramadan, the Turkish government prohibited an event that had been held peacefully over the past twelve years. However, a transgender people’s pride parade had been held only a few days before, still during the holy month. Several years earlier, the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade had been held during the Ramadan as well. The recent ban on the pride parade was nothing but a restriction on LGBTI people’s legitimate rights. The oppression of LGBTI people and violations of universal human rights in the name of “tradition” and “culture” are not condonable.

In recent years, Turkish society has been beset by hate crime against LGBTI people. Amidst such a situation, the government’s suppression of the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade amounts to the incitement of discrimination and violence against LGBTI people. The LGBTI rights movement and civil society in South Korea denounce in the strongest terms the anti-human rights and violent oppression committed by the Turkish authorities, which have thus trampled on democratic rights and incited violence against LGBTI people.

In addition, we are deeply concerned that tear gas produced in South Korea may have been used to suppress LGBTI people in Turkey. Despite criticism from the international community and opposition from domestic civil society, the South Korean government has continued to export tear gas to Turkey. Police violence in Turkey is infamous. Due to the abuse and overuse of tear gas by the Turkish police, nine participants in anti-government protests even lost their lives in 2013. The South Korean government must stop exporting weapons including tear gas, which can be used to suppress citizens’ freedom to express their political opinions, to violate human rights, and to injure and kill people.

LGBTI people and their supporters in Turkey did not succumb to police violence but resisted, staging the pride parade throughout the city well into the night. Shouts of “We are not leaving! Love wins!” echoed. We express our deep respect for and firm solidarity with the courageous resistance of LGBTI people in Turkey. We will form solidarity and fight until the day oppression of and violence against LGBTI people have completely disappeared and LGBTI citizens around the globe enjoy their rights as equal citizens.

July 2, 2015

Amnesty International Korea
Human Rights Center SARAM
Korean Confederation of Trade Union
Korean House for International Solidarity
Rainbow Action against Sexual-Minority Discrimination
SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights
Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
World Without War

International solidarity for political prisoners in Egypt

Drop all the death sentences and stop all executions!
Release all political prisoners and guarantee freedom of protest and press!
Fair trial for all the prisoners and stop police torture!

2011 Egypt revolution encouraged struggle throughout the world. It gave the message “If Egyptians can bring down the tyranny, we can also fight and win against our boss and rulers” to Korean workers and people.
4 years have passed and now workers and people of Egypt are suffering under military government which is led by the former general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. On July, 2013 El-Sisi brought down the president Mohamed Morsi and killed more than 3 thousand people who opposed his coup. On behalf of ruling class who want brutal counter-revolution, El-Sisi became president of Egypt in the following year.
Hundreds have been sentenced to death under El-Sisi’s military regime and about 90 Egyptian citizens were tortured to death in police stations. More than 40,000 were arrested within a year and many of them were arrested under the draconian anti-protest law. Dozens of journalist also have been jailed because of their writing or their work. This truly violates most basic democratic rights of freedom of protest and freedom of press.
Many of the prisoners are also deprived of fair trial. The trial merely acts as a cover for repression and many lacked even the most basic elements of trial. For instance, when the court passed death sentence against over a hundred people along with the former president Morsi on 16 May, it even included the two people who were already dead and one who had been in jail or the past 19 years.
El-Sisi’s military regime suppresses not only the Mslim Brotherhood members and its supporters but also revolutionaries who fought against Morsi government for the revolutionary cause. Indeed, Mahienour el-Masry, who is a member of Revolutionary Socialists (RS) and the winner of “Ludovic-Trarieux” Human Rights Prize in 2014, has led movement against Mubarak and Morsi governments. El-Sisi’s military regime has already arrested her twice and both time they found her acting against the police brutality problematic. Unless we stop political repression of the regime as a whole, such release may only be temporary for the brutal regime can always jail anyone they want.
Despite such acts of political vengeance and violation of basic democratic rights, the leaders of world countries are not showing any sincere reaction against it. The United States occasionally talks about human rights and democracy but Egypt is not only exception to them but US is even providing arms and money to Egypt regime. President of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, also recently wrote a letter of amity to El-Sisi saying that she hopes “to increase mutual understanding based on the sound trust between the two nations”. Surely all of them are hypocrites.
Political prisoners, their families and local activists have called for solidarity voice over the world to raise concern about the political repression. We Korean activists are here today to respond to their call and make our voice heard.
We are in solidarity with the political prisoners of Eygpt who are being oppressed for their political faith and conscience. Moreover, we will do everything possible to support the workers and people in Egypt to rise against the military regime and push the history forward.

19 June, 2015
Antiwar Peace Solidarity Korea, Citizens’ Solidarity of Human Rights, Imagination for International Solidarity, International Solidarity Committee of ‘MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society’, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korea Federation Medical Activists Groups for Health Rights (Association of Korea Doctors for Health Rights, Association of Physicians for Humanism, Dentists’ Association for Healthy Society, Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society, Solidarity for Worker’s Health), Korean House for International Solidarity, Labor Party, Nanum Munhwa, National Union of Mediaworkers, Palestine Peace and Solidarity, People’s Solidarity for Social Progress, Workers’ Solidarity, Youth Left.

Protest on July 26

On July 26, over 150 people gathered in Seoul, South Korea to condemn the ongoing assault on Gaza and demand an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. With testimonies from Palestinians, a powerful performance, several “die-ins,” and a march past the Israeli embassy, the demo attracted positive attention from passers-by in downtown Seoul.

The rally began with a performance in which participants solemnly laid white flowers on an enormous Palestinian flag, in memory of the more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, killed in the current attack on Gaza. A series of speakers, including Palestinians living in Korea, described the devastating impact of Israel’s current operation and the constant violence of the occupation. Demands included a halt to Korean arms sales to Israel, a suspension of diplomatic support of Israel, and, more broadly, an end to the current attack, the crippling siege of Gaza, and the occupation of Palestine.

After staging a “die-in” of dozens of people, the group marched through central Seoul, with several more die-ins along the way. The hundreds of people who received fliers from the marchers were, in general, receptive to the message of solidarity with Palestine.

Though police arbitrarily prevented protesters from marching directly in front of the Israeli embassy, they were able to pass within shouting distance. The embassy has been the target of all-day “one-person” protests every day since July 15, which will be maintained until Israel ends its assault. Weekly rallies, which began on July 19, will also continue to be held every Saturday.

This Saturday’s action was organized and supported by a range of South Korean pro-Palestinian organizations, unions, and political parties. A large contingent of foreigners, especially from the Muslim and Arab world, also took part in the demo.

summary by PPS activist

Of Legacies, in the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

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While it may have escaped your notice given the overall lack of media attention, the UN General Assembly voted 110-7 with 56 abstentions (and yes, the usual suspects voted against) on November 26, 2013 to make 2014 officially the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. As part of this motion, a number of related activities are planned for this year under the auspices of the United Nations to demonstrate this support. The official launch ceremony takes place today (January 16) and the resolution aims to achieve the following through the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People:

promote solidarity with the Palestinian people as a central theme, contributing to international awareness of (a) core themes regarding the question of Palestine, as prioritized by the Committee, (b) obstacles to the ongoing peace process, particularly those requiring urgent action such as settlements, Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and; (c) mobilization of global action towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. 
2014: UN declared Year of Solidarity with Palestinian People. By Carlos Latuff
2014: UN declared Year of Solidarity with Palestinian People. By Carlos Latuff

While we celebrate this important milestone in international support (which hasn’t really shifted in any way in the past 40 years), another important event is taking up much more of the spotlight. Much of the world continues to mourn the passing of a man many if not most outside of Israel regarded as a war criminal of the first degree, former Israeli Defense Minister, Prime Minister, “bulldozer”, butcher and self-proclaimed “warrior” Ariel Sharon.

Image made by Ben White and Doc Rocket.
Image made by Ben White and Doc Rocket.

Indeed, there is a great sadness to his death as pointed out by Human Rights Watch, one of the international human rights organizations who wanted to see him in the docks, in that justice will never be served for his numerous crimes. The piles of Palestinian bodies in Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon in 1982, the apartheid wall dissecting the occupied West Bank, and the consolidation and expansion of colonial settlements in East Jerusalem and West Bank are all elements of a legacy that should not be forgotten.

Here is an interesting discussion by Noam Chomsky and Rashid Khalidi about his legacy.

Here Robert Fisk and others who were present at the time reflect on Sharon’s responsibility for the slaughter in Lebanon in 1982 as Minister of Defense, a role that saw Sharon deemed unfit to hold public office by his own state. Sadly, it appears that this was quickly forgotten. Lest we forget. Again.

Free Palestine: Rock against the Occupation (8pm, Sat, Aug 24 @ Freebird)

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Free Palestine: Rock against the Occupation is a benefit concert which will bring concerned global citizens from Seoul and around the country together for a night of solidarity and live music. On Saturday, August 24 we’ll be filling up the stage of Club Freebird with some of Seoul’s best acts to raise awareness about the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and Palestinian struggle for freedom. Huckleberry Finn, Sato Yukie, Romantiqua, Eshe and Navah (belly dance), Sunn-Row, Reflex Beatniks and Sarasu have decided to extend their support for freedom in Palestine by donating their musical talent for one meaningful night of powerful music and human solidarity – and we’re hoping to add one more band to the final lineup.

Doors open at 8pm on the night of Saturday, August 24 and the live music will continue into the early hours of Sunday morning. Tickets will be sold for 10,000 won at the door and 100% of all profits raised will go towards helping send Palestine Peace and Solidarity activists to the occupied West Bank to document the use of Korean equipment in the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and to participate in direct action in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom from Israeli military occupation. In addition, funds raised will support PPS’ domestic activism in raising awareness in South Korea about Palestinian human rights and ending Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Thanks to the musical stylings of some of Seoul’s finest indie musicians, Free Palestine: Rock against the Occupation promises to be a meaningful night packed with high energy entertainment in solidarity with Palestinians.

Huckleberry Finn are veterans of Seoul’s indie scene, starting out in 1997 and pursuing their own unique sound for the last 16 years. They’ll be performing acoustic which, if you haven’t seen it yet, is an experience you can’t afford to miss. I’ve been hooked on their song ‘Desert’ ever since I finally got to see them perform.

After their recent stint at the 2013 Ansan Valley Rock Festival, psychedelic postrock act Romantiqua are teaming up with renowned bellydance artist Eshe and her troupe Navah to tear up the stage – and the floor. Get a sneak preview by checking out this collaboration with Romantiqua performing ‘What’s Not There’.

Romantiqua performing the spacey ballad ‘Borus Aurelious’:

Eshe & Navah have kindly agreed to take it one step further and will also be performing their own dance set during the evening.

Sato Yukie should need no introduction. Born in Tokyo and usually seen playing alongside his bandmates in ‘Gopchang Jeongol’, he’s been a familiar name in Seoul’s music halls for a number of years bringing his unique improvised style to the scene. Check him out jamming out ‘Train to a New World’.

We’re also very pleased to announce that fresh from the latest installment of ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Punk Rock’, Sunn-Row of pop-punk legends ‘The Strikers’ will be cranking the tempo down a notch to perform an acoustic punk set for us. Here’s Sunn performing ‘Missing Grace’ by the Strikers.

Up and coming punk/emo band Reflex will be rocking out for Palestine after also recently taking to the 2013 Ansan Valley Rock stage. Their upbeat and high energy style of rock promises to get the crowd moving! Here they are performing, ‘We Can’t Stop, We Just Going on ‘:

We’ll also be joined by newly-launched electro-rock outfit Beatniks who are already making a name for themselves with a unique collision of electronica and guitar rock.

We’re looking for volunteers to help out on the night with flyering and also to help work the door, so please get in touch if you can be of help by emailing: nablus3@gmail.com.