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Watching the meedia conference: Global solidarity to the Korean DPO's demand for the disability rights in Korea

- https://youtu.be/I587W76KkF4

 

 

[Statement] 

 

The Korean Government should protect disability rights with an adequate budget and policy in accordance with international accords

 

In 2022, the struggle for the rights of disabled people has become a hot topic in the Republic of Korea. While the Republic of Korea enjoys the world's 10th largest GDP, its public welfare expenditure (at 12.2%) is the lowest among the 38 OECD member countries. In response, disabled people have been raising awareness about their life conditions and urging protection of their basic rights (e.g. mobility, education, labour, and deinstitutionalisation) through subway boarding campaigns, ritual shaving of one’s hair, and sit-in protests for over a year in front of the Korean National Assembly. 

 

In Korean society, the debate around the ongoing protests by disability activists—in particular, the subway boarding campaigns in the morning commuting hours—have become more heated. 

 

 1. International regulations on peaceful assembly

 

The UN  Convention on the Civil and Political Rights, General Comment on article 21 (right to peaceful assembly) states that “States parties should not rely on a vague definition of ‘public order’ to justify overbroad restrictions on the right of peaceful assembly. Peaceful assemblies can in some cases be inherently or deliberately disruptive and require a significant degree of toleration(…) prohibition of “public disorder” in domestic law should not be used unduly to restrict peaceful assemblies.”

 

Lee Jun-Seok, the chairperson of the People’s Power Party which will become the ruling party on May 10th, criticised the protests:

 

“It [the protests] should be actively intervened (by the police and the Seoul Metro), it is absurd that millions of Seoul citizens should be taken hostage by the protest of people with disabilities”

“It [the protest of the Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, SADD] is an uncivilised and illegal demonstration”

 

His speech is clearly a violation of international accords. Furthermore, it reproduces hate speech towards disability rights activists. Politicians have the responsibility to speak on behalf of the voiceless and mediate social conflict. Yet, Lee only stirs up hatred to raise his political profile. We strongly criticise his hate-based politics.

 

2. Disability Rights Status in Korea

 

1) Mobility

 

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities

Article 9 – Accessibility

 

“To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.”

 

In South Korea, only 27.8% of intra-city buses are wheelchair accessible. As a result, only 21% of routes are wheelchair-accessible. The disparity between regions is enormous: while more than 50%of Seoul’s intra-city buses are wheelchair accessible, only 10% are in Chungcheongnam-do province, and only 5.1% are in Chungcheongbuk-do province. 

 

2) Education

 

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities

Article 24 – Education

 

“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning.”

 

As of 2021, South Korea’s overall university admission rate was 71.5%. However, as of 2020, 55.7% of disabled people couldn’t even attend high school:  a rate 4.5 times higher than that of the overall population (12%). Furthermore, 9.2% of disabled people have never been educated.

 

3) Labour

 

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities

Article 27 – Work and employment

 

“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.”

 

UN CRPD General Comment 6

“Ensure that persons with disabilities are paid no less than the minimum wage and do not lose the benefit of disability allowances when they start work.”

 

In Korea, disabled people still cannot receive the minimum wage as employers are not legally obligated to do so. In addition, the employment rate for disabled people is only 34.6%, as compared to 61.2% for the overall population.  Furthemore, the employment rate of people with complex needs (21.8%) is half that of people with fewer needs.

 

4) Deinstitutionalisation

 

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 19-Living independently and being included in the community

 

“States Parties to the present Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community”

 

According to a 2020 survey by the National Human Rights Institute of Korea, institutionalised people have on average lived in institutions for 18.9 years  with 47.5% of them institutionalised against their will by their families.

 

Lee Jun-seok, the chairperson of the People’s Power Party, said, “Implementing deinstitutionalization through coercion is almost like a human rights abuse when welfare services are not sufficiently provided in the community”, “Forcing deinstitutionalization on persons with disabilities and without families is inhumane and immoral.”.

 

His words expose his ignorance of international human rights standards that declare institutionalisation a severe human rights violation. If he is concerned about the lack of social services in the community, then he should endeavour to provide them. Ignoring his responsibility and arguing for ongoing human rights violations only proves his lack of civil and political consciousness. 

 

3. Demand to the Korean government and politicians

 

The Korean disability community has created laws and systems that are supposed to realise the rights of disabled people. However, despite laws declaring their support of disability rights, they become  empty words when not supported by adequate budgets. 

 

Despite the hatred and discrimination, we will continue fighting to end the exclusion and isolation of disabled people.

 

We, the Korean disability community also invite international colleagues to help build a society where no one is left behind, asking for solidarity and support for our demands below:

 

We demand that the Korean government and relevant authorities:

 

  1. Stop the politics of hate against the disabled and other minorities

  2. Introduce policies on mobility, education, labour, and deinstitutionalisation rights in accordance with international accords to realise the rights of disabled people

  3. Recognise that “rights mean nothing without a budget.” Draw up an adequate budget to substantially guarantee the rights of disabled people


 

Signatories

 

Korean Disability Forum, 

Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, 

Korea Council of Centers for Independent Living, 

Korea Solidarity for Human rights of disability people with Brain lesion, 

Korean Parents' Network for the People with Disabilities, 

National Council of Popular School for People with Disability, 

Disability and Human Rights in Action("FootAct"), 

Disability Discrimination Act of Solidarity in Korea

International Strategy Center

 

Annapurna Deaf Association

ASEAN Autism Network

ASEN Autism Self-Advocacy Network

Asociacion Mujeres Emprendedoras de Alta Verapaz

Association d'Aide à l'Education de l'Enfant Handicapé (AAEEH)

Autistic Minority International

Buikwe Disabled and Vulnerable Empowerment Association

Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID)

Comité de Defensa de las Personas con Discapacidad de Bolivia

Crdp-forum

Dementia Alliance International

DEWA Institute of Special & Inclusive Education

Disability Rights International

disability Sausage Media

DPAC

European Network on Independent Living - ENIL

GAMMUN Centre for Care and Development Nigeria

Independen Living Center Association

Institute for Social Reformation & Action (ISRA)

International Strategy Center

Kupenda for the Children

Otago Disabled Student Association

Support Organization of Parents with Disabilities [SOPADI]

Transforming Communities for Inclusion

University of the West of England (UWE)

Validity Foundation

 

Dayanidas Sudhakar(India)

Deepti Karan Weiss(Fiji Islands)

Marsden(Kenya)

MARSDEN(Kenya)

Na Young Jeon(ROK)

Polly Meeks(United Kingdom)

Seoyoung Kim(ROK)

Sunggee Kim(ROK)

Tim Crawford(United Kingdom)

William(ROK)

Yeongsook Lee(ROK)

 




 


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