Suppress ‘Anti-conscription System’
The National Police Agency (NPA) investigated internet sites of anti-military/avoiding military service. Two sites closed by themselves and discussion on it is getting passive.
What is difference between objecting military service and avoiding military service?
Where can we draw a line between discussing conscription system and agitating objection of military service? On Mar.20.2001 an investigation team on cyber crimes of the NPA announced that they are investigating on three inter-net sites, which informed people about how to avoid, military service, agitated people to object military service and recruited its members through the notice board on Internet. This announcement is controversial in Korea. The three sites, which are under investigation, are ‘Non Service Army site (NSA)’, ‘Organization of Objecting Military Service (OMS-Taum Cafe)’ and ‘Defense Ministry of Abusing Us (DMAU-Laicos)’.
The OMS is the most active discussion site among military service related sites and has been accessed more than 40,000 times. The police announced to exclude OMS from investigation because OMS had been a discussion site, which had pointed out problems of conscription system and suggested volunteer army instead of it, and it had also come under a sphere of ‘freedom of expression’. DMAU was also excluded because even though it had been considered the site which had informed people the way of avoiding military service in detail such as the amount of bribes, having an experience of treatment in mental hospital, and habitual dislocation, it had given information of recruit of special case of military service and played a role as a private bureau on military service. Moreover, ordinary people already know the methods of avoiding military service that had been shown on the notice board of DMAU.
The site that the police focused on is NSA because it declared the anti-military movement. The police announced to investigate the NSA because a member of the NSA had declared not going to the army in public, and their behaviors such as denying military duties and agitating objection of conscription are anti-social. Moreover, they had ‘offline’ meeting twice, and it was considered an action for spreading anti-military movement. Even though it is controversial, the police investigates and actively applies NMS’s behavior to Article 114 of the criminal code which stats a crime of being a member of group/organization of objecting military service. After an announcement of the policy of the police, more than 300 mails both of agreement and disagreement with it have been shown on the NMS site.
On the same day the police required Taum communication and Laicos Korea to submit managers’ personal record, and ‘the Council of Info-communication Ethics’ also required these sites to close. Although Taum communication submitted managers’ personal record and ID address, Laicos Korea rejected closing its site because it considered the close of conscription related site is too much restriction on the freedom brought by internet. The Council of Info-communication Ethics couldn’t decide an order of correction because the discussion in the council hasn’t been convened. However, on the notice board of OMS displayed its close, and all contents of the notice board of DMAU were removed the following day.
The managers of OMS and DMAU accepted the police investigation, but two managers of NSA didn’t. While the police insisted that they violated Article 114 of the criminal code (it read that people who organize groups for the purpose of objecting military duties or tax payment duties, or to be a member, will be punished 15 years of imprisonment or less than 15million won penalty), it seems the range of application to the law will be controversial. Furthermore, the fact that the police included not only managers of the sites but also members as its investigation objects is more controversial. The mangers of the NSA said, “We didn’t put the method of avoiding military service on the site. Moreover, we only required government to accept the rights of objection by political conscientious reason and the alternative service.”
During the police investigation, citizens’ organizations one after another announced their statements. On Mar.22.2001, 8 organization for peace and human rights such as the Solidarity of Peace and Human Rights, the Organization of Human Rights Movement and Mingahyop criticized and said “the police action is an expression of their will which they won’t sit and watch the rational discussion related to problems of conscription system and making it as public opinion. The following day the Progressive Network Center, the Democratic Labor Party and the Solidarity of All Nation participated in ‘Co-action against Info-communication censorship’ and announced its statement. The statement read that the idea, which the police justify, its censorship on the inter-net by considering only having discussion about conscription system being antisocial is out of date. And these organizations required withdrawing its investigation on discussion sites about conscription.
A person concerned the police said “I don’t think that the NSA established a big organization only after opening its site one month ago. But we want to prevent beforehand because we have to pay much social cost when this movement occurs in large scale. We also know that the discussion on conscription system in the society is already started, and we never think about stopping the discussion itself totally.
It is not sure that this incident is applied to ‘the crime of being members in organizations of objecting military service’. The police have to prove that the NSA organized an organization for the purpose of objecting military service, and the managers of the NSA have to prove that their purpose was not avoiding conscription. The policy for investigation of the police already brought passive (=not active) discussion just after the discussion on conscription started. It is proved by the two sites, which closed it by themselves.
Interview with Jo Yakgol (manager of the NSA) on a Meeting of ‘Offline’
“We oppose all kinds of violence and the military force.”
Is anti-military movement different from movement of conscientious objection?
Anti-military movement is a larger conception than movement of CO. We oppose militarism pervaded in every place of Korean society and CO. Avoiding military service is not a purpose of our movement. Our purpose is having doubts and reflection about the attitude that military system and conscription system are too justified by ordinary people.
Why anti-military movement?
For me, it is a struggle for surviving. I was terrified to see people (not only men but also women, disabled people, and homosexuals) living under oppression of nationalism and uniformity. If I endure this situation, it means that I aid violence. I think that the core of nationalism is conscription system. That is why I am doing the anti-military movement.
What is an aim of movement?
Getting rid of all kinds of violence and military force is our ultimate aim. However, CO by political, religious and humanitarian reasons should be accepted the first. If the alternative service is introduced, the next task is to change over to volunteer military system. I don’t think these are easy tasks.
Who do you cooperate with?
We welcome whoever stands for anti-military. An essence of military is monopoly of military force, and a few privileged people keep the present social order using it (military force). We want to work together with the weak and the minority against the present social order.
What are methods of movement?
We are planning to have a performance about anti-military on the Mayday. We are collecting songs about anti-military and already have some of them.
How is the situation of running the site?
I have received much response on the line, but people don’t turn up a meeting of ‘offline’. I guess that some people come here and look around, but they don’t show up. I can see deeply rooted fear of our mind through this behavior.
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