Yesterday, February 07, 2013, 10 Korean NGOs held a press conference in front of the Indian Embassy in Korea.
The co-statement below in the conference was delivered to the Indian Embassy (toward the prime minister) urging them to stop the violence.
Korean civil society has strongly argued that the Indian government should push ahead the project with consideration of human rights of the villagers and environment. Some of committees of the Indian government and National Green Tribunal clarified their position that the proposed project failed to obtain villagers’ consent and environment effects should be examined thoroughly.
Despite POSCO Project acquired legitimacy from the Indian government, it is clear that mobilization of police force should not be principal means of resolving deportation cases.
The Indian government must be aware that how much painful the Indian villagers, who are dismissed from their lifelong lands and houses and received unfair compensation, feel. Early in the morning of 3rd February 2013, Indian police attacked peaceful protesters. They attacked women and children, cut the trees and devastated facilities of the village. Furthermore, as from 5th February, police and Indian government employees have conducted forcible land acquisition procedures in the village opposing to the proposed project.
Also, Korean civil society doubt why the police force is involved in POSCO project, which attracts attention of international society, at this time even though the government refrained from putting troops.
As of 28th January 2013, when South Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy visited India, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma referred “We have been concerned about the delays and will be conducting a review. Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) himself has been monitoring this project”
Korean civil society is disappointed in the Indian government if the outcome of ‘review’ and ‘monitoring’ is resorting to violence and brings the armed forces.
Not only opponents of the project in the village, but international civil society including South Korea are skeptical whether POSCO launched the project with villagers’ full consent through ‘valid’ procedures. In addition, we doubt whether the Indian government clings to environment permitting guidance. For this reason, as of October 2012, civil society of India, South Korea, Norway and Netherlands petitioned NCPs of Korea, Netherlands and Norway, regarding POSCO project as an undertaking which has violated OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. In this situation, enforcement of the project with armed forces would never be beneficial to POSCO as well as the Indian government.
Korean enterprises including POSCO have expanded investment in India. However, Korean civil society does not want disadvantaged people in India to go through human rights abuses and discrimination as investment of Korean companies escalates. The Indian government, as a state fully respecting human rights, has to pay attention to Korean civil society and those who are fearful of expropriation of land, instead of focusing on enterprises such as POSCO.
We therefore urge the Indian government to
– Withdraw the police force as soon as possible and prosecute those who are responsible for the assault.
– Provide treatment to the injured villagers and compensate those who lost their trees and other sources of livelihood.
– Reexamine POSCO project and ensure that villagers’ right to partake in decision making.
– Respect villagers’ human rights and protect them from brutality.
1. Advocates for Public Interests Law
2. Corporate For All
3. Energy & Climate Policy Institute
4. GongGam, Human Rights Law Foundation
7. Korean House for International Solidarity
8. Korean Lawyers for Public Interest and Human Rights
9. National Association of Professors for Democratic Society
10. People’s Solidarity for Social Progress