Liberal officials allegedly branded as ‘leftists‘
By Yi Whan-woo
Cheong Wa Dae allegedly branded progressive-minded officials of the country’s human rights watchdogs as “leftists” in 2009, a local media outlet reported Tuesday.
The officials were liberal-minded and had criticized the Lee Myung-bak administration. Some of them quit their jobs for uncertain reasons.
The government passed a list of the names of those people at the National Human Rights Commission of Korea to Hyun Byung-chul, chairman of the watchdog.
One of the officials on the list was Kim Hyung-wan, who criticized Hyun’s alleged “dogmatic” policy in the organization since being appointed by President Lee to take over the commission in July 2009
“I just couldn’t understand how the government could judge a person based on one’s political view,” said Kim who took a part in the establishment of the commission and served for years, but quit in September 2010.
“The time when the list was released was when prosecutors charged a television program producer for making a show that criticized the government’s decision to import U.S. beef.
“I argued we should deal with the matter because I thought the prosecution’s investigation was against the freedom of expression. But I failed and that’s why I left,” he added.
Another official surnamed Kim once reported police over their exercise of force during the candlelit vigil in 2008. He said the report was based on statements from the general public that police violated human rights during the protest.
Kim added he financially supported a civil rights group, for which a conservative lawmaker criticized him.
“It was so surprising that the lawmaker found out about the fact even though I did not do it publicly.”
The government reduced the number of watchdog employees by 21.2 percent in April 4 despite opposition from civil rights groups that deemed the action was to eliminate liberal and progressive officials in the organization.
The union of the commission said a number of colleagues left their jobs after Hyun took over and asked for a clear explanation from the chairman.