Greenpeace welcomes Busan court decision to uphold right to peaceful protest against nuclear energy

Press release - 2013-08-22
Busan - Greenpeace today commended South Korea's judicial system for upholding people's right to peaceful protest after it ruled that the four Greenpeace activists who demonstrated on Busan's Gwangan bridge to raise awareness about South Korea's inadequate nuclear emergency plans were justified to perform such action due to real threats by nuclear energy on citizens of Busan.

Government prosecutors charged Jun Kwon Song (South Korea), Van Pham (USA), Adhonal Canarisla (Indonesia) and Chun-Ta Lee (Taiwan) with trespassing, illegal assembly and disruption of business and were seeking up to 10 months of jail terms against the activists.

On her ruling, the Busan District Court judge recognized that  "The action was to raise awareness to the government and the people on nuclear accident safety law to exclusively achieve public good."

The court ordered the activists to pay fines, but ruled against the prosecutor's motion for jail terms.

The four Greenpeace activists set up a hanging Nuclear Emergency camp on Busan's iconic Gwangan bridge in July, asking the Korean government to widen the official nuclear evacuation zone from the current 8-kilometers, to a 30-kilometer radius.

Around 3.4 million people live within the 30-kilometer radius of the Kori nuclear reactor, the oldest reactor in the country, and one of the nuclear facilities suffering from frequent malfunctions and safety-related scandals. This makes it the only reactor in the world to have such a high density of people living nearby.

Reacting to the verdict, Daul Jang, Senior Climate and Energy campaigner of Greenpeace East Asia said: "The Busan court's decision to uphold our fundamental right to freedom of expression is especially important at a time when certain elements in the Korean government are bent to suppress opposition against nuclear energy in the country. Greenpeace activists worldwide will always take responsibility for their actions, but jail sentences sought by the Korean government and designed to silence opposition against nuclear energy cannot be accepted."

"We will maintain our campaign aimed at protecting the public’s right to clean, healthy and nuclear-free environment," he added.

Greenpeace has been campaigning to raise public awareness on the dangers of nuclear energy and strengthen public opposition against dangerous nuclear energy. Following the Fukushima disaster, and after a series of scandals and malfunctions at South Korea’s nuclear plants, public opposition against nuclear energy in the country has dramatically increased.

Daul Jang, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner, + 82 10-2714-4207
Kim Hye-kyeong, Senior Communications Officer, +82 10-7712-3144