Farmer Baek Nam-gi Dies in South Korea

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Farmer Baek Nam-gi Dies in South Korea
By: HIC-HLRN
03 October 2016
 

On this day, World Habitat Day, we should be commemorating our progress toward realizing the human rights to adequate housing and land. However, we have just received the news that Baek Nam-gi, a farmer and the member of Corea Catholic Farmers` Movement (CCFM), died today from his injuries suffered under police violence against peacefully protesting land reform advocates.

On 14 November, police targeted Baek with water cannon during his protest calling for just rice price. The impact rendered him unconscious for the past 317 days until his death.

The incident took place during a People’s Rally of 130,000 demonstrators gathered, despite a court ban, to protest policies that took away farmers livelihoods in South Korea. Combat police were shooting high pressure water cannon with a high-level mixture of capsaicin directly into demonstrators’ faces. The cannon forced the 69 year-old farmer to the ground, causing a head injury. When other demonstrators tried to drag Mr. Baek away to put him in an ambulance, police continued to fire water cannon down at his rescuers and other demonstrators from atop a wall of police buses. Other demonstrators also suffered severe injuries, including skin burns, bone fractures and lacerations to the eye.


At the time, public cries called for the National Police Agency’s then-new Commissioner General Kang Sin-myeong to step down and take responsible for the consequences of police actions under his command. Social movements also demanded that. President Park Geun-hye apologize for the violent crackdown. However, no party has been made accountable, nor has any proper investigation been conducted until today.

As soon as Farmer Baek passed away, the police tried to seize his body, claiming that they were taking it for an autopsy as if the cause of death were not clear. Families and supporters strongly protest against this attempt since they believe that it is clear that Farmer Baek`s death is caused by the police`s brutality. CCFM is also requesting support for demand for the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate and punish those responsible for state violence such as that perpetrated against Baek Nam-gi.

Please send your condolence and solidarity messages directly to CCFM Secretary General Son Yeongjun at: ccfm9697@daum.net.

On this occasion we repeat the ten demands of the Korean farmers to replace their country’s neoliberal agricultural trade policy with the guiding principles of food sovereignty. At the People’s Rally of 14 November 2015, protestors delivered the following demands:

  • To stop the import of low-priced cooking under the tariff-rate quota system,

  • For the National Assembly to cease moves to join and ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement,

  • To secure rice prices in a way to send rice to North Korea and implement farm exchange visits between South Korea and North Korea,

  • For the resignation of Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Lee Dong-phil for promoting the sale of selling US-imported rice,

  • To settle the crippling debts of farmers and reduce the lending rate to 1 percent,

  • To secure women farmers’ equal legal status and establish a body exclusively to deal with their concerns,

  • Immediately to cease promoting commercial genetically modified (GM) crops and dissolve the task force team to develop GM crops,

  • For government to institute a state purchase system of basic agricultural products to maintain food prices and farmer’s livelihoods,

  • To ensure environment friendly agriculture products and implement a fair compensation scheme for farmers contributions to maintaining the environment and ecology,

  • To defeat forthcoming general election candidates who have broken faith with farmers.

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