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Monday, May 15, 2006

support for the right to protest

Voice of People conveys the message of support for the Korea University students who were expelled for good from the school after a confrontation during which they confined several university staff for 16 hours.
Message to victimized students at Korea University

Dear friends,
I have spoken at Korea University several times over the past decade, and am very appreciative of the hospitality and interest I have always enjoyed from the student population there. I was therefore shocked to learn of the expulsion or suspension of students for exercising their right to protest.

I call on the University administration to withdraw these measures and I declare my solidarity with the victimized students and their supporters. Good luck with your campaign!

With best wishes, Alex Callinicos,
Professor of European Studies, King's College London
Now does it seem that someone has failed to enlighten professor Callinicos of the circumstances of the incident and protesting methods, or is someone twisting facts so that "right to protest" includes not letting people go for 16 hours, or is someone just ignoring facts for a good effect?

Those who take the students' view at face value are free to believe what one of the expelled students says in a Kyunghyang Sinmun interview that "professors didn't actively show willingness to go home" even though the article points out that the student fails to provide a good answer to what makes 100 students blocking the way of the professors different from confinement.

Comments to note "support for the right to protest" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous oranckay> said on 15.5.06 : 

You mean Kodae students, right? and not YOndae?

<Blogger Antti Leppänen> said on 15.5.06 : 

Who knows all those daes, especially when you've been around the Gwanak-san...

Thanks for pointing out my mistake, it's now corrected.

<Anonymous Owen> said on 15.5.06 : 

I know Alex vaguely and I think he would be very well informed about what actually happened here. Personally I agree with him though. The university authorities have massively over-reacted to a relatively minor, non-violent incident. But his was a deliberate over-reaction - it's really about getting rid of student activists from certain organisations (and one organisation in particular I believe). It is also about getting revenge for the incident with Lee Kun-hee last year when the university management had to back down from punishing the students.

So my reaction to outrage over confining university managerial staff is 'so what?' I wish we could do that to the arrogant people who 'run' my university.

<Blogger Gerry Bevers> said on 16.5.06 : 


You should go ahead and try holding managerial staff of your university in confinement for sixteen hours. If your assumptions are right, little will happen to you since your university administrators most likely do not have the same axe to grind that Koryo University administrators did.

<Anonymous owen> said on 16.5.06 : 

I assure you they have no shortage of axes to grind...

<Anonymous JB@Kodae> said on 9.6.06 : 

You have to understand Korea University in order to understand this particular situation. Kodae has a strong tradition of student protest and civil disobedience; the 4.19 Revolution actually began for Kodae on April 18th, a fact which is celebrated every year by a memorial run to Suyuri that stops northern Seoul traffic.

Throughout countless protests, Korea University has always stood by its students at the cost of the law, professors hiding students from police, dorm masters short circuiting the dormitory lights so it looked as if no one was home and so on and so forth. A defining moment for myself as a Kodae student was when there was a similar incident a few years ago where student protesters staged an indefinitely prolonged sit-in at Kodae's Main Hall, and one of my law professors, during a criminal law lecture no less, was talking about how to "protect" them and minimize their punishment. No one has been expelled from this school for a similar reason since the late 60's. Suspended, sure, not expelled.

So it's from this context that Owen above is talking about "deliberate over-reaction." Maybe in your school in Helsinki, or the one in Gwanak-gu, outright expulsion of student protesters caught in such a situation would be the norm... in fact I'd say if this happened in any other school, I'd find expulsion reasonable as well.

But this is Kodae.

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