On 31 October activists from Korean trade unions, peace campaigns and human rights groups protested against the export of tear gas to Bahrain in response to the Stop the Shipment campaign. Read the press release below and scroll to the end for a video of the protest action.
No more tears of Bahrain people caused by made-in-Korea tear gas canisters (original Korean here)
Tear gas was heavily used during democratic movement in Korean history. The dictatorship applied tear gases against the people to suffocate the desire for democracy. Direct application of tear gases caused the lives of Han-yeol Lee (1987) [whose death sparkled June Democracy Movement and introduction of direct presidential election] as well as Ju-yeol Kim (1960) [whose death led to April Revolution which toppled South Korea’s the first president].
Because tear gases have caused many problems the Korean government has stopped using it since 1999. The Korean companies now produce tear gas canisters only for export purposes. This is not the first time that tear gas canisters exported from Korea turned out to have problems. In June 2013, the Turkish police applied them against peaceful protesters with many injured. Among the canisters used at Turkey were ones produced by Daekwang Chemical, a Korean company.
The situation in Bahrain is known much worse. The security force in Bahrain has continuously used tear gas canisters produced by Daekwang Chemical and CNO Tech from Korea. Not only do they use it against the protesters, but they also use indiscriminately even when there is no protest ongoing. It is revealed that they even shot it into residences.
Physicians for Human Rights have reported that at least 39 people have lost their lives in Bahrain due to tear gas since 2011 and that the actual death toll may be higher than 200. Much more people have been injured. Teenagers, seniors and disabled people were not spared by security force.
It was reportedly the two Korean companies that exported the largest quantity of tear gas canisters to Bahrain in 2011 – 2013. The Korean companies exported 1.5 million canisters to Bahrain in 2011 – 2012. Recently, it was revealed that Bahraini government is planning to import 1.6 million canisters more and Korean companies are also willing to export more.
Acknowledging that Bahraini government is abusing tear gas canisters, several countries including United States banned its exportation to Bahrain. Lately, well-known intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, famous director John Pilger and many more have also urged that the countries including Korea should stop exporting tear gases to Bahrain.
South Korea has signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). It is an internationally alerting issue for ATT signatories to export weaponry to the country whose usage is likely cause violation of human rights. The Korean government should apply in the interim Article 6(Prohibitions) and 7(Export and Export Assessment) of ATT and immediately ban tear gas exportation. Also, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA, an agency which give permission to export) should ban tear gas exportation according to Article 57 of the DAPA Law, which states that ‘DAPA may prohibit exportation of defense products in order to secure world peace, global security and national security.’
– Immediately stop exporting Korean tear gas canisters to Bahrain!
– DAPA and Korean government should stop permitting tear gas exportation to Bahrain and all the other countries which are likely to use it in a way to cause severe human right violations!
October 31, 2013
Amnesty International Korea, Antiwar Peace Solidarity Korea, Catholics for Human Rights, Citizen’s Solidarity for Peace & Unification, Committee for international solidarity of Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Cultural Action, Daejeon Women’s Association for Peace, Friends of Peace, Gunsan Center for US Military Base Suffering, Imagination for International Solidarity, Korea Peace Foundation, Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union, Korean House for International Solidarity, LifePeace, Nanum Munhwa, Nonviolent Peaceforce Corea, Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, One corea action, Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea, Peace forum of Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea, Peace Ground, Peace Museum, Peace Network, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Sarangbang Group for Human Rights, The Frontiers, Weapon Zero, Women Making Peace, Workers’ Solidarity, World Without War, Young Left in Korea
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