UPDATE(Republic of Korea): Send your petition letter to the South Korean government requesting release Mr. Song Du-yul immediately 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-53-2003
ISSUES: Freedom of expression, Rule of law,

Dear friends

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) requests your urgent solidarity for Mr. Song Du-yul, who was arrested and indicted for violating the National Security Law of Republic of Korea. Mr. Song has received intensive investigations about his alleged pro-North Korea activities by the prosecution of the Republic of Korea for two months since he returned to Korea this September after 37 years of exile in Germany.

The second court hearing is scheduled on 16 December 2003. Please send a petition letter to the government of Republic of Korea and strongly request them to release Mr. Song Du-yul and abolish the National Security Law which has been used to suppress people’s rights for a long time. The sample petition letter is attached below. Please also send a copy of your petition letter to the defence lawyer of Mr. Song Du-yul for their reference. (Please respond before 16 December 2003)

To See our previous urgent appeals regarding this case, please visit:
UA-67-2003: Arrest of scholar Song Du-yul under the National Security Law,
UP-48-2003: Scholar Song Du-yul indicted for violating the National Security Law]

Regardless of whether it differs from the state’s ideology, one’s right of opinion and expression should be respected by the state in accordance with international human rights standards and laws.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER



I am deeply concerned about the case surrounding the Korean-German scholar Song Du-yul, who, after being in exile for 37 years in Germany for political reasons, came back to Korea only to be arrested on 22 October 2003.

Due to his efforts to promote reconciliation and democracy after decades of division between the two sides of the Korean peninsula, Song Du-yul has been charged with violating the highly criticized anti-communist National Security Law. The prosecution has never been able to prove that Mr. Song was a spy for North Korea, only that he is a member of North Korean Workers' Party and has visited North Korea more than 20 times in order to arrange dialogue between the two sides of the country.

He was officially indicted on 19 November, after being intensively questioned for one month under custody. While the prosecutor investigated him, Mr. Song was tied up and handcuffed, and only given restricted access to his lawyer. In addition, he was intensely interrogated, raising grave concern that Mr. Song was severely pressured to confess to crimes and recant his political views. The prosecutors have also demanded that Mr. Song formally pledge his conversion, which Mr. Song had refused to do. 

The Republic of Korea is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), under which freedom of expression is guaranteed by international law. However, the "Ideology conversion system" which has been succeeded by the "oath of law-abidance" in the National Security Law violates this basic right to expression guaranteed by articles 18, 19 and 26 of the ICCPR and impedes Korea¡¦s progress towards democracy.

In short, the persecution, arrest and indictment of Mr. Song are inexcusable violations of his basic human rights. The treatment of Mr. Song goes against international law, instead adhering to an unjust national security law that represses Korean society and stifles freedom of speech and thought. Even though Mr. Song¡¦s political opinions may differ from state ideology, they must be protected under stands of domestic and international law.

I urge the government of the Republic of Korea to release Mr. Song Du-yul immediately. The government should further abolish the National Security Law, which has long been used by the government to suppress people's rights and punish those with differing political opinions, stalling progress towards democracy and reconciliation in Korea.

Sincerely yours


Send a letter to:

1. Ms. Kang Kum-sil
Minister of Justice 
1 Jungang-dong, Kwachon-si, 
Kyonggi Province, 427-760, 
Fax: +822 504-3337 / +822 503 7046 (HR Department)
E-mail: jk.kim@moj.go.kr

2. Mr. Roh Moo-hyun 
1 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu 
Seoul 110-820, 
Tel: +822 770-0018
Fax: +822 770-0347 or 770-0001 / +822 770-2579 (for appeal)
E-mail: president@cwd.go.kr 

3. Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9003 
E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org

Send a copy to:

Mr. Choi Byung-mo
President, one of defence lawyers of Mr. Song Du-yul
Lawyers for a Democratic Society (MINBYUN)
5F, Sinjeong B/D, 1555-3, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, 
Seoul, P.O. 137-070
Tel + 82 2 522 7284 
Fax +82 2 522 7285 
E-mail: m321@chollian.net

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-53-2003
Countries : South Korea,
Issues : Freedom of expression, Rule of law,