The Police Killing of Baek Nam Gi

This story have its beginning in last years massive demonstrations against the government of Park Geun Hye. The marches, organized by labour, civic and farmers’ groups, brought together protesters from all walks of life, against the government of conservative President Park Geun Hye, including her capitalist-friendly anti-workers policies and a decision to require middle and high schools to use only state-issued and history revisionist textbooks starting in 2017.

Han Sang Gyun who were one of the main organisers of the protests were sentenced to five years in prison. South Korean riot squad attacked protesters with water cannons and tear gas. Many times the water cannons were used against single protestors, among them were Baek Nam Gi. On Saturday November 14th, 2015, Mr. Baek were rushed to the hospital. After 10 months in a coma as a result of head injuries suffered after being hit by water cannon, he passed away on Sunday, 25 September, 2016.

Over the past ten months as he lay in hospital, Baek Nam Gi’s family has been trying all possible avenues to seek accountability. They filed a criminal case against seven officers involved in the killing, and brought a separate lawsuit against the state demanding compensation. The National Police Agency of south Korea conducted an internal investigation but did not release findings. To date, the south Korean authorities have accepted no responsibility for the incident, and not a single police officer involved in the incident has faced any charges for the killing.

Baek Nam Gi was expelled from school twice for protesting the rule of the current president Park Geun Hye father – military dictator Park Chung Hee. He was expelled from university in Seoul in 1971 for leading a demonstration against Park’s deployment of troops on college campuses to harass student activists. He was later allowed to re-enroll but was soon on the run from the police for organizing protests against Park’s constitutional revision aimed at extending his presidency.

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Picture shows Park Chung Hee in Imperial Japanese Army uniform in 1944. Park is the father of the current south Korean puppet ruler Park Geun Hye and was the fascist military dictator of south Korea from 1961 to 1979 (when his own side shot him)

The same family of fascists that have a long tradition of banning opposition and in 1975, simultaneously as Mr. Baek was expelled, fascist dictator Park Chung Hee, issued a directive to police and local officials to “purify” the streets of undesirables. Police officers, assisted by shop owners, rounded up panhandlers, small-time street merchants selling gum and trinkets, disabled, orphans and other poor children dissidents, including a college student who’d been holding anti-government leaflets. Those who by the fascist regime considered as undesirables where taken to concentrations camps, that first in recent years has been revealed. Tens of thousands of people have died fighting the repressive puppet governments of south Korea. This is not the first time that the south Korean government should be held accountable for its crimes against its own citizens, and won’t be the last. In 1980, Mr. Baek was expelled a third time and sentenced to two years in prison for his activities.

Mr. Baek was born in 1947 in Boseong County in a rural community. Unlike former student activists who entered politics and became national figures in south Korea, Mr. Baek devoted himself to fighting for the rights of poor rural farmers. Outside the room that held Baek’s casket in Seoul National University Hospital over 500 people gathered to mourn, the same day as they found out that Mr. Baek passed away. Yoo Young-hoon, 64, said, “This is a very sad day. We think that the government should investigate the exact cause of Baek’s death and should apologize sincerely.”

Yoo had known Mr. Baek since 1987, through their work with the Korean Catholic Farmers Movement. He said he will fondly remember Baek as a kind man. “He was someone who sacrificed, who fought for our country’s democratization,” Yoo said.

The struggling people of south Korea will always carry the spirit of Mr. Baek. The south Korean authorities have caused the Baek family and friends great harm and distress, taking away a husband and father of two daughters and one son.

baek

Dear comrade. We will never forget you, how you unselfishly dedicated your life to fight for the rights of the poor and oppressed. You fought against a powerful enemy for decades. When the oppressors couldn’t get you to fall to your knees, they went so far as they did on September 25, and took your life.

May you rest in peace.

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