Seoul, South Korea, 2 April, 2012: Three Greenpeace senior staff members accompanying the organisation’s International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo were today denied entry and deported from South Korea, highlighting the Government’s growing willingness to suppress voices speaking out against its nuclear energy expansion ambitions.
With the environmental organisation’s ship M/Y Esperanza due to tour South Korea in mid April to launch its local Energy [R]evolution and no-nuclear campaign (1), Naidoo and Greenpeace East Asia Executive Director Mario Damato were visiting the country to promote the launch. The two were also to meet with the Mayor of Seoul Park Woon Soon, the Mayor of Incheon Song Young Gil, local politicians, media, and other NGOs. However, Damato and two other staff were stopped at immigration, and will be deported at 8pm today despite Naidoo being granted entry.
“Yet again we see that democracy and nuclear power don’t mix. The nuclear industry cannot stand public scrutiny, and the people of South Korea should be asking themselves what do the industry and government have to hide? What conversation would my colleagues from Greenpeace start that is so challenging that they deserve to be banned from the country? Are they concerned about Greenpeace’s finding in Fukushima and Chernobyl? Or is it our critique of nuclear economics?” said Naidoo.
The deportation of Damato and two senior Greenpeace staff overseeing development of its Seoul office (2) is the latest in a string of moves by authorities to quash criticism of its nuclear expansion plans. The first occurred in August, 2011, when following a Greenpeace announcement that it would be opening an office in Seoul, the Government declared it would be spending an additional 10 billion won ($9 million US) promoting nuclear energy (3).
“Our deportation is a wakeup call for the people of South Korea of what they can expect if their country expands its already unhealthy reliance on nuclear power and allows this kind of crackdown to continue,” said Damato from the detention centre inside Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. “It is absolutely unacceptable for the authorities to shrink the democratic space and pressure legitimate voices of concern. We will resist any attempt to silence us.”
Greenpeace is demanding a meeting with the relevant government authorities regarding the deportation of its senior staff members.
“Japan is now suffering the huge economic, environmental and social costs of gambling with nuclear power. South Korea cannot afford to go down the same path,” said Naidoo. “Greenpeace urges the Korean government to listen to the lessons of Fukushima (4), and to invest in a truly clean, safe, and sustainable energy scenario as laid out in Greenpeace’s Energy Revolution.”
1) The Energy Revolution is a science-based energy outlook that provides a detailed practical blueprint for cutting carbon emissions while achieving economic growth by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and energy efficiency. A special Energy [R]evolution report for Korea will be launched during the Korea “Hope Energy Ship Tour”.
For international version: http://www.energyblueprint.info
2) The three Greenpeace senior staff who were deported are:
i) Dr. Mario Damato, Malta/ EU passport holder, Executive Director of Greenpeace East Asia, Representative of Greenpeace in Korea.
i) Fung Ka Keung, British National (Overseas) passport holder, Organisation Support and Regional Development Director, Greenpeace East Asia.
ii) Rashid Kang, Malaysian passport holder, Organisational Development Manager for Greenpeace Seoul.
3) “The announcement that it would open its Korean office and anti-nuclear protests seemed enough to make the authorities here watchful of future Greenpeace actions. According to local news media, the Korea Nuclear Energy Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Knowledge Economy will seek to set aside 10 billion won ($9.3 million) next year to beef up the publicity of nuclear energy safety.”
4) Lessons from Fukushima report including executive summary.