SOUTH KOREA: Conscientious objector Moon Myungjin on trial / threat of 18 months' imprisonment


South Korea conscientious objector Moon Myungjin will be on trial for his refusal to perform military service on 16 March. If convicted - which is likely - he will potentially face 18 months in prison.

In a statement of support, War Resisters' International wrote: "Moon Myungjin is well known to War Resisters' International, and has participated in seve­ral WRI seminars and events – among others an exchange on nonviolence training in Bil­bao, Spain, in October 2008, and an international conference on “Globalising Nonviolence” in Paderborn, Germany, in 2006.
He also volunteered in the WRI office in London from January to March 2009, and helped organise the international training and action for the International Day on Conscientious Objection in Seoul in May 2009. While in London, he also participated in a series of nonviolence trainings organised by the Turning the Tide programme of Quaker Peace and Social Witness."

The Republic of Korea does not recognise the right to conscientious objection. Although repeatedly reminded by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, both in its jurisprudence on individual complaints from South Korea (see Communications Nos. 1593 to 1603/2007, 23 March 2010 and Communications Nos. 1321/2004 and 1322/2004, 3 November 2006), and in Concluding Observations, that this constitutes a violation of article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), South Korea has so far failed to recognise conscientious objection, and continues to imprison conscientious objectors.

In September 2009, a judge again presented a case of a conscientious objector to South Koreas Constitutional Court, arguing that clause 1 of article 88 of the Military Service Act conflicts with Article 19 of the South Korean constitution, which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. “The clause in the military service act is unconstitutional by excessively violating freedom of conscience by forcing conscientious objectors to do their military duty and then punishing them,” the judge said.

War Resisters' International calls for letters in support of Moon Myungjin to

c/o Single Criminal Court #3 (ref. 2011 godahn 55)
Seoul Western District Court
99 Mapo-ro
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Fax: +82-2-704-4065

The letter should refer to the right to conscientious objection, and South Korea's violation of article 18 ICCPR, as stated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

As of November 2010, 965 conscientious objectors were serving prison sentences for their refusal to perform military service in South Korea.

War Resisters' International calls for the acquittal of Moon Myungjin, and for the release of all imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

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