Friday, May 16, 2008

2008 GIPF Keynote Address

Century of crisis: Loss of Relationship and Prospect of its Recovery

by Seoktae Lee
Former President of
Lawyers for a Democratic Society

It is a great honor to participate in this international event to memorize the Gwangju Peoples Movement in Gwangju that has the meaning of "Light Village” and is the cradle and holy ground of democratic development and human rights movement in Korea.
On the November 3rd, 1929, a large event was happened here, in Gwangju. Anti-Japanese students’ movement was started here by the students who could not endure such misbehavior that Japanese students bantered Chosun schoolgirls and the movement was dispersed to neighboring cities spreading the injustice of Japanese colonial administration. The students shouted “Hurrah for Chosun’s independence” and asked for abolition colonial slave education. Numerous students of the country hailed to each other and stood up to awakening the Chosun people. This event became the axis of Chosun students' movement as well as 3.1 Independence Movement in 1919 and is recorded one of the most important events resisting Japanese Empire.
Gwangju, through the resistance to Japanese Empire, fought against the despotic government that had been continued since liberation. After the death of President Jung-Hee Park who creamed permanent seizure of power, the military retained the power again and continued brutal oppression with trampling on the peoples’ desire for democratization. Therefore, Gwangju peoples stood up again on May 18th, 1980. Nelson Mandela said, “The real courage is not fearlessness but to overcome the fear.”Gwangju peoples did so. They feared possible loss of democracy but did not intend to avoid the cruel guns and swords of the army that threatened the democracy in front of them. Gwangju peoples overcame the feat and, as a result, won a victory. Their blood has become a no-drying spring for the democratic movement since that time. Gwangju peoples’ desire for human rights and peace is the ideal aimed by today’s Korean society. Such valuable sacrifice is the mirror to look at whether Korean society, Asia to which Korea belongs to, and the world go to the direction to really respect the dignity and value of man.

Last century was a tragic time stained with two times of world wars and numerous disputes and troubles. The mankind is full of hope for the new millennium with remaining such distressed days. It seemed that a new way of science and advance would be opened in front of ours.

However, in contrast to such expectation, an incredible event was happened in the U.S.A. in 2001. That was the September 11 Terror. Two airplanes of the U.S.A. collided with the twin buildings of World Trace Center in New York due to the menace by terrorists they rode in the airplanes disguising themselves as passengers. In case of two other airplanes hijacked at that time, one collided with the Pentagon building and the other crashed in a near place. Due to this event, many persons in the airplanes and numerous persons from many countries as well as the American persons worked in the buildings were dead.

This astonishing event happened soon after opening of the new century gave a great impact to the mankind. The September 11 attacks was a traditional suicide terror but exceeded the concept of common terror; firs of all, indescribable sorrow and anger is felt due to the valuable lives of the persons sacrificed due to the terror. On every September 11, the wave of condolence gathers around the buildings of such attacks.

In sharing such sorrow, I have a question why such incredible event was happened. First of all, what beats my heart is the expression of a large hatred to the September 11 attacks. Suicide terror is a tragic action to give up the own lives of terrorists as well as the objects of the terror.

If the specific features of September 11 attacks are summarized, the purpose was the attack of the heart of New York, the U.S.A., and a mean to maximize the rage of damage was selected. Airplanes were hijacked and they were used as the tool to attack the symbol of the capitalism of the U.S.A. Terrorists did not consider who were in the airplanes and which countries’ persons were working in the buildings collapsed with collisions. The persons worked in and around the trade center met a sudden calamity with no expectation of unhappy matter. Such a harmful act seems to be intended to show their extreme antipathy to the U.S.A. as an impact to the persons of the world. It seems to cry, “See! We punished the U.S.A.”

As well known, terror is the action with no purpose. They intend to accomplish the punishment type goal by attacking the other party. There is also the case that has some purposes. The action to damage the body of other people are prohibited in any country. It is permitted to the minimum level in the exceptional cases such as self-defense. In this case also, the guilty is accepted but the responsibility is exempted. This principle is the same over the border.

Therefore, although a person has a grudge against another person, the person cannot personally punish the other person and should commit the matter to the decision by governmental authority. Meanwhile, when such decision by governmental authority cannot be expected, a terror is determined. In a word, the core structure of a terror is generated in i) the retribution relationship for terrorism and 2) the case that legal method other than terrorism is not found. In this respect, September 11 attacks seem to be the extreme case of hopeless violence caused by the thought that there was no mean but to personally attach the U.S.A.

It would be better for the U.S.A. to examine itself why some persons or groups hate the U.S.A. to such a high level rather than searching for terrorists as the measure against terrorism. This method cannot restore September 11attacks but will prevent the second and third terrors. However, the U.S.A. did not do so. The U.S.A. attacked two Islamic countries in Asia in turn with useof mighty military power in the reasons that terrorists were protected and that WMD for terrorism are possessed. Two countries are under the occupation by the U.S.A., in fact. Differently from the declaration by the U.S.A. and England to build democracy in the two countries, the establishment in the two countries looks far. The two countries met with lots of calamities including the damage in the lives of citizens and the damage in properties when the U.S.A. attached them but the security is extremely unstable at present time also. Large and small terrors are frequent. If September 11 attacks are localized in terms of property, the two countries was attacked in the whole countries. Nobody can assert that the hatred newly generated by attack of the two countries is a mitigated one compared to what expressed in September 11 attacks.

At the second half of 11th Century, the beginning of the last millennium, Europe went to the Crusade War and attacked Islamic territory. And then, the Crusade War, which was continued for 200 years, resulted in huge sale of damages in lives and properties in both parties. September 11 attacks, followed attack of two Asian countries by the U.S.A., and related unstable world's situation do not guarantee of peace to mankind in the new century but results in a dark forecast that more tensions may be required.

In practice, human rights were largely retrograded since 911 attacks. Guantanamo bunkhouse has many detained persons locked up with the suspicion of terrorism with no legal procedure. The survey of them by UN Human Rights Committee was rejected and they are in the blind spot of human rights.

As described, the unhappy sign given to use by September 11 attacks and the related successive events seems to be unfortunately clear. The mankind did not succeed in resolving troubles or disputes by the method of rationality, persuasion, concession, and amicable settlement when they were generated in the last century. Therefore, we experienced in unprecedented disasters. However, although we entered into a new century, we are placed in the situation that there is no way but to give priority to power. Small countries and weak persons have nothing to depend on and become more anxious. The inspection ports of airports become stricter day by day and entry is not permitted without taking fingerprints in some countries. In case of light tourism also, I have the feeling that I am treated as a potential terror suspect in the airport. In such a situation, it would be difficult to everybody to say that the mankind developed in the real meaning.

An event was created in the U.S.A. to show that the world becomes more unstable. This time, it was the crisis of financial collapse. Bear Stearns Bank, one of the largest 5 financial institutions in the U.S.A., which had the pride of 85 years of history on the Wall Street in New York, the U.S.A. that experienced September 11 attacks, was dishonored in March. This is a kind of financial panic called sub-prime mortgage. This is not suddenly happened on a day but is related with the unreasonable financial and consuming system of the U.S.A. The U.S.A. had had the special right to use dollars as the key currency of the world since World War II. As a result, all the matters were done if the U.S.A. issued dollars and distributed them in the world by the necessity by the U.S.A.In contrast, other countries had to produce and sell products and store U.S. dollars paid for such products. The U.S. Wall Street made various kinds of financial techniques as the financial center of the world and accumulated the wealth with use of such techniques with no production of commodities. Due to such reason, the U.S.A. became the kingdom of consumption and the conspicuous consumption of Americans became the common matter. Due to the influence of conspicuous consumption, Americans purchased the houses exceeding their income levels competitively asking for loans. Various financial institutions including banks formed a new financial high interest network by the method such as permitting loans with the mortgage of receivables of such loans. Meanwhile, when the bubble prices of real estates declined heavily, the persons purchased the houses could not repay the loans and chain reactions were caused. Most of professionals expect long term recession and confusion in relation to the crisis of credibility of the U.S.A.

This financial event created in the U.S.A. has the serious point in the respect that direct influences are given to other countries besides the high possibility of recurrence. For example, Island, which was appointed as one of the good countries to live in, excessively depended upon overseas finance and is faced on the bankruptcy of the country now. The financial crisis started in the U.S.A. may result in sudden unhappiness in any country.

The financial system of the Wall Street of the U.S.A. is the advance guard point of new liberalism. The faceless speculation capital moves over boundaries and time to enlarge the size of profit attached to the capital. The lump of capital is cultivated to create larger profit. The blind desire of men is integrated in the speculation capital. It does not contain the common virtue of the mankind such as understanding, concern, and friendship. Sub-prime mortgage event symbolically exposed the crisis of global lives occupied by new liberalism. Matrix, a worldwide hit movie showing that a computer is placed on the head of a man, is not a simple imagination. It means that the man is governed by virtual network not by the sweat of labor in the actual world and may penetrate deep into our actual world.

The specific feature of new liberalism is, in a word, maximization of competition. It drives out the individuals to continuous egoistical relationship rather than reasonable cooperative relationship. As the competition is very hot, individuals should make efforts to the utmost of their power not to drop out of the line. The man may easily be treated as an consuming object rather than the subject of personality. As efficiency is the best data to make judgments, flexibility of labor is highlighted for easy dismissal and irregular job is preferred for easy replacement. The increased irregular jobs in Korea are related with new liberalism.

Meanwhile, the man is the entity of “relationship.” The man is born and grows in the relationship and forms the relationship through social activities. The sense of security and fulfillment is felt only when a conviction that good relationships are maintained with family, office, or surroundings is felt. However, it is not easy to form proper relationships under new liberalism that winning in the competition is highlighted. Also, I occasionally feel that I am also separated from the relationships and pushed out to the circumstance part. However, I am surprised looking at me standing at a cliff. It is thought to me that each of individuals isolated from the society governed by enterprises are usually in such a risky-feeling situation. Actually, many persons under new liberalism are placed in almost defenseless naked status in front of the endless competition system. Since the both world wars, they had extreme uneasiness in their everyday lives due to the situation of that times that it was unclear when a war might be started. At that time, Heidegger, a German existentialism philosopher, expressed the time, “Persons are thrown in the world.” Today, we are thrown in the critical situation that all the persons become the enemies.

As the man is the entity of relationship, the enterprise cannot exist apart from relationship, too. When saying with use of the hint of Aristotle, “The man is asocial animal,” “The enterprise is a social entity.” The enterprise is made by the man, is operated by the man, provides products and services to the man, and receives the price. Therefore, the enterprise should value the man. The laborers working in the enterprises are not less important than the persons invested money in the enterprises. However, the laborers provided time and sweat, i.e., a part of their lives, in stead of money. The laborers may feel the worth when the price of work is balanced. Such delight should be shared by businessmen also.

The enterprise should respect the persons out of the enterprise. Appropriate roles and responsibilities should be played and executed to meet the essence of the enterprise that is a social entity. Social operation and social responsibilities of the enterprise, which is recently discussed, are very natural ones. Now, highlighting the social responsibilities of the enterprise is a worldwide trend and Korea should also go to such direction. However, the enterprise should not stop. As amazing imaginative power is used in making commodities, the enterprise should gather creativity for social relationship.

When the enterprise respects the inside and outside persons and fulfills the social responsibilities, the enterprise will have no way but to succeed. If such belief and faith is not available, what the ideal and hope of lives may be depended on. Like the wish of Martin Luther King, a nonviolent human rights activist of the U.S.A., who said, “I have a dream,” we may also have a dream to jump over it in the society that competition and differentiation became common. Although Koran businessmen have made lots of contributions in economical growth, they has been distrusted. They have lots of money but live like hermits apart from the masses. However, it’s the time that wealthy persons are also accepted for their making their wealth through their own endeavors rather than illegality or chance luck. It’s the time that they expose their bodies to the masses with no hesitation and share the everyday lives.

This year is 60th anniversary of UN’s Human Right Declaration. The UN’s Human Rights Declaration starting with the words, “Where as recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” says , “it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to be rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”

Two events were recently created in Asia in relation to Buddhist priests. The one was created in the country called Myanmar by military government which was Burma in past. The country has been governed by the military authority since 60’s like the past Korea. Aung San Suu Kyi, a daughter of General Aung San called the father of foundation of Burma, received absolute popular support when the party led by her obtained 392 seats among 485 seats in the Parliament in the election in 1990. According to the result, Aung San Suu Kyi had to be the head of the government but, in contrast, she has spent most of her days confined in her house by the military authority since that time. Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded with Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and was awarded with Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2001 by the May 18 Memorial Foundation that holds this event today. Buddhist priests demonstrated in September last year in Myanmar and the police fired at such demonstration team killing or damaging the Buddhist priests.

Meanwhile, two months ago, a demonstration was held by Buddhist priests in Tibet in China. By the same way, Chinese government fired at them and the Buddhist priests were died or injured. A refugee government was founded in Dharamsala in 1959 by Dalai Lama, the religious leader of Tibet. He consistently asked Chinese government dialogue by nonviolent method like Gandhi. Dalai Lama was also awarded with Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. On 30th April, Chinese court sentenced 17 citizens participated in the demonstration team to severe punishment ranging from imprisonment for life to three year’s imprisonment. The books written by Dalai Lamar have wide range of readers in Korea. His teaching is not significantly different from Korean Buddhism thought and his consistent pacifism line gives impression like those of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Korean readers and peace movement activities wish to meet Dalai Lamar. However, unfortunately, his entry is not yet permitted by Korean government.

Former President Dae-Jung Kim was detained and sentenced to death by military authority at the time of Gwangju mass resistance. Nobel Committee awarded Nobel Peace Prize to him in 2000 and stated the reason for being awarded, “His commitment in favor of democracy in Burma and against repression in East Timor has been considerable.” We need to remember the deep interest in the Asian democracy and human rights of former President Kim Daejung.

What worried about in the measures taken by Myanmar and Chinese governments to the demonstration by Buddhist priests is that firing was done at citizens in both cases. The right or wrong and feature of demonstration at that time is not clear due to limit of press. It is not clear what type of event was held during demonstration. Article 19 of UN’s Human Rights Declaration guarantees the freedom of expression and Article 20 states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” Also, Article 2of UN's Human Rights Declaration states, “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” According to this article, the Buddhist priests of Burma and Tibet have the rights to express their intended words in the form of peaceful meeting and demonstration.

In 1929, the students asked, in the Gwangju Anti-Japanese Student Movement, the government the freedom of press, publication, meeting, and association. In1980, the masses rose because the freedom of meeting and association to express their political will by violent method by soldiers. Nothing is more essential freedom than the freedom of expression and peaceful expression with gathering of many persons. It is not the one that is given by a mighty person to weak persons or is given by a group or government to citizens in the form of benefits. Freedom is the rights naturally assigned to the man. Such natural freedom was limited in Burma and China.

Eastern Asia recently attracts attention from the world. China, holding Olympic Game in August, intends to make the Olympic Game the motive to elevate the national prestige as Japan and Korea did in past. Olympic is the symbol of peace and harmonization. However, unfortunately, Eastern Asian area does not form a stable situation yet. Han Peninsula is in divided situation, fairly large scales of U.S. Army are stationed in Korea and Japan, and both countries intend to strengthen the alliance with the U.S.A. Such a trend indicates that the possibility that military tension is relieved in Eastern Asia is not large yet. Also, on the other hand, '6 Party Talks' is held in relation to the nuclear problem of North Korea. Amity with the U.S.A. and Japan is important to North Korea that is economically difficult but there is no progress due to kidnapping problem in the relationship with Japan as well as the nuclear problem.

Such many problems indicate that inter-government dialog and, furthermore, the solidarity and cooperation by Asian citizen societies is needed.

After World War II, the press had an interview with Doctor Schweitzer called the saint of African jungle. At that time, a reporter asked him which view of life he had, pessimistic or optimistic. Schweitzer answered in the meaning that he experienced the tragedies of two times of large wars. However, lots of weapons including nuclear weapons were produced and disputes were not discontinued. When he saw such situation, he had no way but to have pessimistic thought in relation to the future of the mankind. However, if he could participate for contribution in some improvement of such situation although his ability was insufficient, he might be optimistic in such respect.

A fairly long time elapsed in this new millennium but the future of the mankind is not bright yet. There is no large difference in Asia, too. Stable peaceful situation is not yet constructed and there is the omen of resurrection of nationalism appealing to mass psychology. However, in harder situations, the masses of Asia overcame. Human rights and peace are gradually considered to be the common value. We still have the works to perform and have the hands to take each other. In this respect, it will possible to have optimistic prospect like the hope of Doctor Schweitzer.

Thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?

Irom Sharmila Video

Irom Sharmila is a young woman of Manipur who has been on a fast-to-death for nearly 7 years now. She has been demanding the removal of a brutal law from her land. Manipur is a north-east Indian state (bordering Myanmar), riven for decades by insurgency and armed separatist movements. The Government of India has attempted to control the situation militarily, granting drastic powers to the security forces. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enforced in the region lets people be arrested, shot and even killed - on suspicion alone. But Sharmila is willing to stake everything -- even her life -- to restore justice and dignity to her people.