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Monday, December 19, 2005

Status of Demonstrators Agreement (SODA)

I understand that at present, of the hundreds of Korean demonstrators held by the Hong Kong police, all but 12 have now been released. For the dozen, the Hong Kong authorities are now making a decision what kind of legal procedures will be taken.

Kyunghyang Sinmun appeals for a lenient treatment (sônch'ô) for those apprehended for unlawful demonstrating, noting that there's a big difference between Korea and Hong Kong in sentences for the acts committed. "We hope you will take this into consideration" (이 점도 고려해 주길 바란다).

Hankyoreh also seems to wish (same in Korean) that the demonstrators granted a diplomatic status of a sort:
[Korean government] should express regret to Hong Kong authorities and do all it can for a favorable resolution of their status. One would hope that Hong Kong officials, in turn, consider this a diplomatic issue and find a reasonable means to resolve situation without insisting on going entirely by their domestic laws.
I hereby propose that Hankyoreh and Kyunghyang would start drafting a kind of a Status of Demonstrators Agreement (SODA) modelled on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between United States and Republic of Korea. The agreement would for example stipulate that breaches of law during demonstrations would be prosecuted according to the ROK laws, but otherwise the demonstrators would be under the jurisdiction of the hosting country. Now it's of course late to have such agreement made between ROK and Hong Kong, but perhaps the Korean government should propose "SODA" to be made for example with Finland, which will host the ASEM meeting in September 2006.

Update.

Oranckay proposes that the agreement might also be called SOFA (Status of Farmers Agreement), but my opinion is that covering only one occupation with such extraterritorial privileges is not just.

Update 2.

Voice of People tells how the human rights of the arrested demonstrators were violated:
[...]
I even witnessed that when a Korean violently (kyôngnyôlhage hangûihada) demanded his handcuffs be opened, four policemen came, grabbed his hands and feet and took him to another room.
After that, a woman officer photographed me with a paper with my name and passport number in it. I was treated just like a criminal.
[]
After we were given just rice mixed with sausage, soy sauce and cabbage, me and my cellmate proposed to the arrested in the other room that we collect all our demands and hand them over together.

A commentator to the article proposes the following measures for police facing demonstrators (sorry, no translation this time):
먼저 시위대에게 수고한다면서 먹을것도 주고 편의를 제공해 주어야 한다. 시위대가 때리면 때리는데로 맞아야 한다. 회담장으로 진격하겠다면 회담장까지 친절하게 안내해주어야 한다. 혹시라도 연행을 할려면 시위대들의 건강을 생각해서 2인1실.호텔에 모셔야한다. 감기라도 들면 중대한 인권침해이므로 난방에 특히 신경써야 한다.
시위대 앞에서는 절대 웃어서는 안되며 항상 미안하고 안쓰러운 표정을 하고 있어야 한다. 신원확인도 할려고 해서는 안되며 시위용품도 압수해서는 안된다. 소세지나 양배추따위의 식사를 제공해서는 안된다.
(Today I'm really in a reactionary mood.)

Update, Dec 20, 2005

I'm not quite sure how independent the judicial branch in Hong Kong is, but the Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon supposes it takes orders from the executive branch of the government. Ohmynews tells that Mr Ban has asked for leniency for the eleven arrested Koreans in a phone conversation with Rafael Hui, chief secretary for administration.
According to the foreign ministry official, Mr Ban stated that in case the eleven arrested Koreans are given heavy sentences (chungbôl), there is concern that it can become a burden for the mutual diplomatic relations. Mr Ban also asked the Hong Kong government to excercise leniency (sônch'ô) concerning the farmers' sensitivity towards the agriculture issue and their situation, and the mutual relations between Korea and Hong Kong.

Categories at del.icio.us/hunjang:

Comments to note "Status of Demonstrators Agreement (SODA)" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous oranckay> said on 19.12.05 : 

경향왈, '홍콩법은 불법집회 5년, 폴리스 라인 침해 10년, 각목 소지 2년 이하 등 징역을 규정하고 있다. 우리나라와 처벌 기준 차이가 크다. 이 점도 고려해 주길 바란다'

정말 소파협정같은 소릴 하고 있네!

<Anonymous kotaji> said on 19.12.05 : 

Antti, why are you in a reactionary mood today? I'm not offering psychotherapy or anything, just wondering...

The comparison with the SOFA is good for a brief chuckle, but that's about where the relevance ends as far as I can see. There's nothing wrong in my eyes with protesting both the mistreatment of protesters legitimately exercising their right to protest in another country AND the leniency with which US personnel who commit real crimes can be treated under the SOFA. Where is the contradiction here?

The Hong Kong police arrested over a thousand people on Saturday night while they were peacefully sitting in on Gloucester Road, subsequently mistreating many of them according to a number of accounts. In the end they have charged 11 people. This is one in a hundred, so the only conclusion I can come to is that the protesters were arrested and held for reasons of revenge and as a demonstration to Hong Kongers.

Now if the Korea govt were to use this for political gain that would really be hypocrisy, and would bring to mind the antics of certain people in the Brazilian govt after Jean Charles de Menezes was executed by the police in London back in July. [There are hundreds of extra-judicial murders carried out by the police in Brazil every year.]

Finally, just to offer one further opinion, I don't see the law as sacred, particularly not in a 'country' (well, ex-colonial entity) which has no functioning democracy. If laws require that people are locked up for five years for holding illegal gatherings then those laws need to be challenged. Perhaps this offers a good opportunity for this to happen.

<Anonymous Eric> said on 20.12.05 : 

kotaji:
protesters legitimately exercising their right to protest in another country
It's a privilege, not a right; many democracies, Mexico for example, disallow even peaceful political participation by legal temporary residents. Living in a certain polity, I have a social contract with my neighbours, that they may impose costs on me by protesting and causing disruption to my life, and I may do the same to them. We have no such social contract with outsiders from foreign countries.

I don't see the law as sacred, particularly not in a 'country' (well, ex-colonial entity) which has no functioning democracy.
Just two weeks ago, I joined two-hundred fifty THOUSAND HKers (including many rich and poor residents from overseas) to protest a reform package recommended by Beijing. We marchers did not commit crimes and so did not get arrested, despite having hundreds of times more participants than the anti-WTO marches. This should illuminate two facts:
1) Our lack of voting rights (democracy) does not mean that we also lack civil liberties. Laws against illegal assembly are no barrier to peaceable protestors who have a permit --- even if their aims threaten the government and ruling interests.
2) We have the right to march and protest any laws, including those against illegal assembly. But no one protests these laws; instead we choose to keep them, because, along with the Societies Ordinance, they're one of the few weapons our police have in the fight against organised crime.

These laws about represent a tradeoff: civil liberties vs. freedom from aggression. If they were repealed, you and I both would get the benefits of increased expression. But after you got on the plane and flew home, I'd still be stuck with the costs of increased aggression after you're gone (gangs marching down the streets in a show of force and intimidating us in our places of business, with the police powerless to stop them), while you avoided those costs.

So obviously, it's in my self-interest to keep these laws and yours to oppose them, and we'll never agree with each other. =)

<Anonymous kotaji> said on 20.12.05 : 

Exactly who in Hong Kong experienced aggression from the protesters (many of whom were Hong Kongers themselves) apart from the police who were protecting the WTO conference? The reports I saw remarked again and again how much good will there was between locals and protesters, particularly with the Korean farmers. Some people carried out acts of violence in frustration on Saturday, which I don't agree with personally. But let's remember that the over one thousand people who were arrested were actually rounded up by the police at a peaceful sit-in demo on Saturday night.

If you're someone who believes the stuff about the 'delicate balance between civil liberties and security' then good luck to you with fighting for democracy. That sort of stuff is always used by governments to justify maintaining their own power. They know full well that the real source of protest and the very minimal violence that sometimes goes along with it is injustice, not too many civil liberties.

And no, I do not believe protest is a privilege.

<Blogger hardyandtiny> said on 26.12.05 : 

I saw people swinging large sticks at police officers.


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