POLITICAL PRISONER DATABASE
Fundraiser for Korean Labour Militants
Film Screening and Social
with the Halifax Anarchist Black Cross
at the Roberts Street Social Centre (5684 Roberts St.)
Saturday March 19, 2011
6pm: Film Screening of William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (by donation)
8pm: Home-made burritos ($4) and brew ($2)
The Halifax Anarchist Black Cross is part of an international effort to raise money for 8 comrades from the SWLK (Socialist Workers League of Korea) who have been convicted under the "National Security Law" and "Assembly-Demonstration Law" of South Korea for their efforts in the working-class socialist movement. Each labour militant has a 500,000 Won (approx. $500) fine plus additional legal expenses. Other individuals and organizations involved in publicizing and supporting the SWLK case include: activist and author Loren Goldner, Insurgent Notes, League for a Revolutionary Party, Internationalist Perspective and the International Communist Current.
On March 19th, the Halifax ABC will be hosting a fundraiser at the Robert Street Social Centre for the SWLK militants. We will be screening William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe at 6pm. Following the film we will be selling home-made burritos and brews starting at 8pm. If you cannot attend but are interested in supporting the cause financially please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the political situation in South Korea and on the political work of the SWLK can be heard in a locally produced radio documentary here: http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/49456.
About the film William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
In William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe filmmakers Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler explore the life of their father, the late radical civil rights lawyer. In the 1960s and 70s, Kunstler fought for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. and represented the famed “Chicago 8” activists who protested the Vietnam War. When the inmates took over Attica prison, or when the American Indian Movement stood up to the federal government at Wounded Knee, they asked Kunstler to be their lawyer.
To his daughters, it seemed that he was at the center of everything important that had ever happened. But when they were growing up, Kunstler represented some of the most reviled members of society, including rapists and assassins. This powerful film not only recounts the historic causes that Kunstler fought for; it also reveals a man that even his own daughters did not always understand, a man who risked public outrage and the safety of his family so that justice could serve all.
About the trials and convictions against the SWLK (Socialist Workers League of Korea)
On December 3, 2010, the prosecutor in the Seoul Central District Court demanded prison terms of 5-7 years for eight members of the SWLK (Oh Sei-chull, Yang Hyo-sik, Yang Joon-seok, Choi Young-ik, Park Joon-seon, Jeong Won-hyun, Oh Min-gyu, and Nam-goong Won). These activists in the Korean working-class movement were indicted under South Korea’s notorious National Security Law (passed in 1948 and theoretically still stipulating the death penalty for “pro-North Korean” activities). The eight militants of the SWLK, who as internationalists advocate working-class revolution in both Koreas, were accused of no specific crime except being socialists, but in reality the indictment resulted from their intervention in several strikes and movements going back to 2007. This is the first instance of such harsh repression under the National Security Law in many years. It occurs in the larger context of the hard-right turn (such as the smashing of the Ssangyong Motor Co. strike of 2009) of South Korean President Lee Myong Bak’s government since he took office in early 2008. In fact, leaflets of the SWLK distributed during the Ssangyong strike were key evidence in the trial.
Prosecutors have attempted to indict members of the SWLK several times since 2008, and prior to December, the prosecutors’ case was thrown out of court each time. In February of 2011 the eight militants from the SWLK where convicted and sentenced:
Oh Se-cheol, Yang Hyo-sik, Yang Joon-seok and Choi Young-ik:
Imprisonment of 1 1/2 years, but conditional delay of imprisonment for 3 years for violation of National Security Law, and a fine of 500,000 Won (approx. $500) each for violation of Assembly-Demonstration Law.
Park Joon-seon, Jeong Won-hyun, Nam-goong Won and Oh Min-gyu:
Imprisonment of 1 year, but conditional delay of imprisonment for 2 years for violation of National Security Law, and fine of 500,000 Won each for violation of Assembly-Demonstration Law.
The SWLK is judged to be an organization for propaganda and agitation for national disturbances, violating Article 7 of the National Security Law. It shows the political nature of Korean judicial branch, which is a part of state apparatus serving for the capitalist class. The conditional delay of imprisonment can be recognized as the result of Korean and international protest movement. The conditional respite for 3 years means that the imprisonment is suspended for 3 years on the condition of that there will be no other sentence for another crime, and after 3 years the validity of imprisonment sentence expires. But if there is another sentence during the next 3 years, imprisonment from this sentence will follow independently of any imprisonment for further convictions. So, the conditional respite of imprisonment is only a bit better than immediate imprisonment. The 8 accused will appeal this sentence to the high court.